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/Job opportunities/Electrocatalytic CO2 reduction to useful chemicals on nanostructured copper electrodes

Electrocatalytic CO2 reduction to useful chemicals on nanostructured copper electrodes

Master projects/internships - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Nanostructured copper electrodes will be fabricated and their potential for the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction through complimentary material and electrochemical characterization techniques (ex-situ and in-situ) will be evaluated.

One of the biggest challenges of our society is to decrease carbon emissions while the worldwide energy demand keeps steadily increasing. A particular elegant solution to decrease the impact of the ongoing climate change is to utilize the otherwise unwanted and emitted CO2 as raw material for the electrocatalytic conversion to valuable chemicals and fuels (e.g. MeOH, formic acid or ethylene). In this regard electric energy is stored in the form of chemical bonds.

Copper electrodes are very interesting electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction since they show a high electrocatalytic activity towards the formation of a large variety of hydrocarbons. To improve the activity and selectivity many research efforts are directed towards nanostructured high-surface area Cu-based electrocatalysts, but many questions regarding the mechanism of the electrocatalytic reduction on these surfaces still remains unsolved.

In this master thesis, the student will study the electrocatalytic activity of nanostructured copper electrodes for the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction. High surface area and porous interconnected metal nanowire meshes will be electrochemically deposited using 3D-porous anodic aluminum oxide templates. These copper mesh electrodes will then be tested in electrochemical flow cells for their activity towards the reduction of CO2. A major focus of the thesis is to study the reaction mechanism and the product formation in different CO2-purged electrolytes at varied potentials through complimentary material and electrochemical characterization techniques (ex-situ and in-situ). These insights are valuable in order to design highly active catalysts that are selective towards a desired carbon compound. The entire experimental work of the project is carried out at the imec facilities.

 

Type of project: Thesis

 

Required degree: Master of Bioengineering

Required background: Bioscience Engineering

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Nina Plankensteiner (Nina.Plankensteiner@imec.be)