Photocatalytic cofactor regeneration involving triethanolamine revisited: the critical role of glycolaldehyde

Karolina Kinastowska, Jie Liu, John M. Tobin, Yury Rakovich, Filipe Vilela, Zhengtao Xu, Wojciech Bartkowiak, Marek Grzelczak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
175 Downloads (Pure)


Triethanolamine is a widely used model electron donor that enables a fast screening of the photocatalyst parameters in both, homogeneous and heterogeneous scenarios. We report a new role of triethanolamine in heterogeneous photoregeneration of cofactor molecules – nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) – using state-of-the-art heterogeneous photocatalysts. In contrast to the common model involving the light-induced electrons and holes generation to reduce the substrate and oxidize triethanolamine simultaneously, we identified glycolaldehyde as a stable product of triethanolamine degradation capable of reducing NAD+. Triethanolamine, apart from playing a role of a precursor for reducing agent, maintains the alkalinity of the solution to drive the reduction. Our findings offer a fresh insight into the triethanolamine-assisted photocatalysis because glycolaldehyde as such have generally been neglected in mechanistic considerations. Moreover, a spatial and temporal decoupling of the photocatalyst from the substrate reduction reaction minimizes the product re-oxidation, thus implying a relevant feature for the real-world applications using a continuous flow setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-692
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Early online date31 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Cofactor
  • Glycolaldehyde
  • Microporous conjugated polymer
  • NADH photoregeneration
  • Triethanolamine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Environmental Science
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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