Studying the effect of up-scaling CO2-electrolyzers to industrial scale

Studying the effect of up-scaling CO2-electrolyzers to industrial scale.

01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025
Researcher:

Humanity is facing one of its biggest and most difficult challenges in history: climate change mitigation. According to the Paris Climate Conference, to limit climate change to 1.5 – 2°C by 2050, actions need to be taken to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses. To reach this goal two major challenges have been identified:

      • CO2-emissions (main greenhouse gas) are still increasing each year leading to increasing concentrations in the atmosphere.
      • The production of green electricity (mainly solar and wind) suffers from fluctuating, instable output of energy due to varying meteo-conditions. This requires storage of electricity when production exceeds demand.

The electrochemical reduction of CO2 (eCO2R) can be one of the solutions to diminish these problems. By the combination of green, renewable energy and electrocatalysts (Cu, Sb, …) it is possible to electrochemically convert CO2 to usable chemicals and fuels, like carbon monoxide (CO), formic acid (HCOOH), etc. which can be further used as feedstock for industry or as energy source to replace fossil fuels. In this way, CO2 emissions can be prevented, while the green energy used within this process can be stored in the product.

While the scientific community has done extensive research towards catalyst development, research on reactor design is rather limited. This is where this PhD project steps in, i.e. studying the effect of up-scaling CO2 electrolyzers to industrial scale. Upscaling the electrolyzer is an essential part of the process due to the different problems that arise at larger scale such as improper flow distribution, clogging, shunt currents, etc. These problems will be studied, insights derived and solutions developed to go beyond the current state-of-the-art.