In this project you will use electrochemical techniques to convert CO2 into a wide variety of products such as formic acid, acetalehyde ethanol, ethylene, methane, and potentially many other products. The overall purpose of this project is to mitigate CO2 induced global warming by taking CO2 from powerplants, cement plants, and other sources and converting it to useful chemicals so it doesn't get vented to the atmosphere. For example if we produce ethylene, this can be used by the chemical industry to produce polyethylene, which is one of the most popular plastics we use today. Currently polyethylene is produced via fossil fuels.
This is a primarily experimental project focusing on improved catalysis for this reaction. The main goals will be to understand the energy levels and binding strengths of catalyst to the reactants and intermediates. The project will consist of producing and characterizing different electro-catalysts and then testing them in an aqueous CO2 saturated electrolyte. You will vary the electrical potential and monitor how variations in potential affects both the production rate as well as the selectivity.
From this project you will learn skills general skills in catalyst preparation and optimization, electrochemical testing techniques such as cyclic voltammetry, chronamperometry, product analysis using gas chromotography, NMR, and/or mass spectrometry, and materials analysis skills such as x-ray diffraction, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and electron microscopy techniques.
The work will be carried out in the SurfCat section of DTU Physics. This section has well funded, world-class equipment and infrastructure, multiple PhD level technicians to help out, and a large interconnected knowledge base of professors, post-docs and PhD students. In addition we collaborate very closely with the University of Stanford (USA) and this work may involve teleconferencing with some of our theoretical expertise over there.
Image courtesy of Jakob Kibsgaard from Kuhl et al. JACS, 2014
Basic knowledge of chemistry and electrical potentials