/Development of novel nanocomposite electrolytes for CO2 electroreduction

Development of novel nanocomposite electrolytes for CO2 electroreduction

Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Advanced electrolytes to cross the bridge between power and molecules

At imec we see the global concern about greenhouse gases emissions as a huge opportunity for new technology development that transforms CO2 from an environmental threat to a chemical precursor with an economic value. Therefore, a strong focus of our work involves innovative concepts for conversion of CO2 into high value building blocks for the chemical industry. A very attractive possibility is to convert CO2 (CO2RR) directly by electrocatalytic reduction to valuable carbon compounds such as CO, CH4 and formic acid as well as short-chain hydrocarbons like ethylene or alcohols. Such a strategy provides a sustainable alternative to the fossil-based production of base chemicals. Unfortunately, the CO2RR is still far from practical industrial implementation and more research is necessary towards stable, highly active and selective electrodes for the electrocatalytic reaction. 


To be successful, both in terms of performance and stability, future electrolyzer development must be done in consideration of the whole entity, to ensure proper interplay between electrodes and electrolyte.

At imec, the current development of nano architectured electrodes is complemented with the design of sophisticated electrolytes that complement these electroactive components. Advanced ceramic-based nanocomposite electrolytes are introduced as a suitable alternative to the current polymeric membrane-based technology, with the aim of allowing long term operations in a wider range of conditions. However, these nanocomposites require chemically stable materials in suitable architectures to host and integrate the expected anionic exchange functionality. They should offer reliable integration paths with the electrodes ranging from traditional liquid electrolyte configuration to operation directly from the gas phase.

In this PhD project, you will design, develop and characterize new nanostructured ceramics and related composites employing sol gel chemistry combined molecular and/or hard templates and physically induced self-assembly. These nanostructured ceramics will be further combined with carbonate-conducting materials, tailored to fulfill the specific requirements of CO2 reduction common problems, including tolerance to chemical corrosion (acid-base, reactive oxygen species, etc.) as well as carbonate formation. You will explore and rationalize the inherent conductivity and stability of advanced electrolytes in realistic environments and operando conditions, combining in situ spectroscopic and electrochemical techniques. 

Required background: chemistry, materials science, Engineering

Type of work: experimental

Supervisor: Philippe Vereecken

Co-supervisor: Matias Jobbagy

Daily advisor: Matias Jobbagy

The reference code for this position is 2024-107. Mention this reference code on your application form.

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