BECO2Me “Bringing the Electrocatalytic Conversion of CO2 to formic acid towards an industrial feasibility by unraveling the fundamental role of the supporting Material”

September 2018 – September 2022

Lowering the atmospheric CO2 concentrations and reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions are two of the greatest scientific challenges faced by our current generation. Nowadays, a lot of pressure is exerted on the industry for CO2 abatement. A possible strategy is to use CO2 and H2O a renewable feedstock for the production of useful chemicals (e.g. formic acid, carbon monoxide, methane, ethylene, …), while simultaneously using excess electricity, generated by renewable energy sources (e.g. wind, solar or geothermal), to drive these reactions.
Currently the electrochemical reduction of CO2 towards formic acid is not yet industrially viable, mainly due to the robustness of the envisaged technology. While a lot of excellent research focusses on achieving low overpotentials or a high selectivity (faradaic efficiency), the stability of the most commonly investigated electrocatalysts (i.e. nanoparticles consisting of two different metals or bimetallic nanoparticles) remains inadequate. In this PhD project, we focus on improving this stability, by combining state-of-the-art bimetallic electrocatalysts (core-shell nanoparticles) with ordered mesoporous carbon (OMC) supporting materials. By embedding these electrocatalysts into the more open, carbon based structure, the supporting material is able to significantly enhance the stability by inhibiting the agglomeration and detachment of electrocatalysts. Furthermore, the influence of the supporting material on the overall electrochemical performance will be investigated by changing its morphology, doping these carbon materials with foreign elements (e.g. N, B, P) and changing the electrocatalyst loading.