PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago
Global warming as a result of industrial age CO2 emissions is a prime societal concern with a growing popular awareness calling for policy measures. A behavioral change is important, but technology also needs to come with solutions to reduce emissions and, hopefully, even reverse it. Indeed, with a rapidly growing world population and continuous increase in energy demand, it is understood that a lone switch to renewable energies will not suffice to keep the temperature rise well below +2oC above pre-industrial levels. In addition, carbon dioxide is not only a product of energy by combustion, but a waste product of chemical industry as well. For example, the cement industry is responsible for 10% of carbon emissions, with about half of that as by-product of the lime production process itself. Therefore, a technology that can convert CO2 into valuable products by electrolysis, would turn CO2 into a valuable precursor and give it economic value. At imec we are looking into concepts for simultaneous capture and conversion of CO2 directly from air or point sources such as factory chimneys to enable residential and industrial installations for local production of renewable fuels and synthesis of fine chemicals. At large scale, it will help reduce CO2 emissions and could be the technological instrument to eventually reverse the trend with "negative emissions".
The electrocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2RR) thus forms the key towards a sustainable economy with circular energy resources. This project will help close the knowledge gap by a fundamental investigation into relevant catalyst properties which prove vital for moving towards industry-relevant electrocatalytic CO2RR processes and applications. The PhD student will work on the development of metal nanomesh electrodes and their characterization and optimization towards the CO2RR. The student will further investigate the effect of confinement inside the nanomesh on the mechanism and define strategies to exploit these findings towards excellent product selectivity. The work will be accompanied by some modelling and simulation work. The PhD student will collaborate with researchers at partner institutes for modeling and advanced electrochemical characterization. The PhD student will be enrolled at KUL and the work will be executed in the labs in imec.
Required background: Chemistry, materials science, nanotechnology
Type of work: 80% experimental, 20% modeling
Supervisor: Philippe Vereecken
Daily advisor: Nina Plankensteiner
The reference code for this position is 2021-078. Mention this reference code on your application form.