Online Monitoring of Methanol Electro-Oxidation Reactions by Ambient Mass Spectrometry

Si Cheng, Qiuhua Wu, Howard D. Dewald, Hao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Online detection of methanol electro-oxidation reaction products [e.g., formaldehyde (HCHO)] by mass spectrometry (MS) is challenging, owing to the high salt content and extreme pH of the electrolyte solution as well as the difficulty in ionizing the reaction products. Herein we present an online ambient mass spectrometric approach for analyzing HCHO generated from methanol electro-oxidation, taking the advantage of high salt tolerance of desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (DESI-MS). It was found that HCHO can be detected as PhNHNH + =CH 2 (m/z 121) by DESI after online derivatization with PhNHNH 2 . With this approach, the analysis of HCHO from methanol electro-oxidation by MS was carried out not only in acidic condition but also in alkaline media for the first time. Efficiencies of different electrodes for methanol oxidation at different pHs were also evaluated. Our results show that Au electrode produces more HCHO than Pt-based electrodes at alkaline pH, while the latter have higher yields at acidic solution. The presented methodology would be of great value for elucidating fuel cell reaction mechanisms and for screening ideal fuel cell electrode materials. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1005-1012
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


  • Desorption electrospray ionization
  • Electrochemistry
  • Fuel cell
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Methanol electro-oxidation


Dive into the research topics of 'Online Monitoring of Methanol Electro-Oxidation Reactions by Ambient Mass Spectrometry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this