UNiversity of Antwerp
Applied Electrochemistry & Catalysis
The Faculty of Applied Engineering is looking for a motivated full-time (100%) PhD student in the field of electrocatalysis to strengthen their research team ELCAT (Applied Electrochemistry & Catalysis). The research group works around three themes: electrocatalysis, electrosynthesis and electrochemical reactor technology.
The core research goal within ELCAT lies in the development of state-of-the art electrochemical reactors and catalysts, with a view towards large-scale industrial development in the field of industrial electrification, in a green and sustainable way.
WHAT WE DO
Moving towards a decarbonized economy, the ambition to decouple industrial processes from fossil-fuel-derived energy sources will inevitably pass through the exploitation of renewable energy sources such as wind, water and sun. Chemical manufacturing is nowadays based on thermochemical processes which are highly energy-demanding, requiring large amounts of heat.
Electrochemistry allows for a manifold of reactions to proceed on a laboratory or industrial scale under ambient conditions. At the same time, it benefits from a relatively high energy efficiency and selectivity, which can be tuned towards the desired product by adapting the operating potential and/or the electrocatalyst. The major drawback of electrochemical activation is the large overpotential which is required for many of these processes. In order to reduce those large overpotentials, we thus need a well suited electrocatalyst.
In the domain of electrochemical reactor engineering ELCAT focuses on development and optimisation of electrochemical reactors. Investigations in this research domain require a combined approach of know-how on (1) reactor design, (2) electrochemical analysis techniques, (3) electrocatalysis and (4) electrochemical synthesis.
OUR MOST RECENT ACTIVITIES
The aim of this project is to study, explore and develop various (catalytic) technologies for the production of CO as platform chemical via conversion of CO2. A technology assessment will subsequently be carried out to evaluate the potential of each technology, pinpointing promising strategies for further development and upscaling.
Catalysis is a key technology to achieve more efficient and greener organic synthesis. Complementary expertise on the development of new (homogenous and heterogeneous) catalysts (redox, photo and electrocatalysis) will be brought together with organic synthesis know-how in one center.
Society’s strive to more renewable energy, states major challenges in the future with respect to fluctuating electricity production levels. As Europe expects a renewable energy share above 45% in 2050, energy storage strategies are required.
In light of climate change, we started in 2018 with the IOF SBO STACkED project that aims at identifying the most optimal CO2 electrolyzer configuration. The results direct obtained from this project have in October 2019 led to the start of a patent application process with the De Clercq & Partners patenting agency to protect the CO2 electrolyzer configuration.
Analytical assistance and consulting
Measuring chemical products is the cornerstone of solving production issues. With our experience in tailor made analyses we can help you gain more insight in to your (bio)-chemical processes. Our high end industry-standard tools such as ICP-MS, GC(-MS) and HPLC have already proven their efficacy in previous projects.
Corrosion is one of the main causes of degradation in industrial installations. The ELCAT group can consult on this with a variety of electrochemical analysis tools such as impedance spectroscopy. Other services can be provided in the field of CO2 reduction, organic electrochemistry and electrochemical reactor engineering.
Designing an industrial separation process is virtual impossible without accurate physicochemical data of the chemical species involved. For complex separation processes it can also be highly beneficial to conduct trial separation runs in pilot scale equipment in order to test the validity of the design procedures. The ELCAT group can offer expertise on debottlenecking, physicochemical data measurements and pilot scale trial separation runs for third parties to facilitate easier scale-up of separation processes.