Combining Chemical and Microbial Electrocatalysis for CO2 Utilisation

Project: PhD

Project Details


Increasing human populations and global energy use are linked to increased consumption and depletion of fossil-based fuels. In addition, climate change, resulting from the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, is expected to result in several environmental and societal problems in the near future. The conversion of CO2 into fuels or other valuable chemicals using renewable electricity could help mitigate anthropogenic CO2 emissions and contribute to increase in the use of renewable electricity. Many technologies have been proposed and tested for the conversion of CO2, such as catalytic, photocatalytic, electrocatalytic, biological and bio-electrocatalytic CO2 conversion. Bio-electrocatalytic CO2 conversion is considered promising, in terms of achieved conversion efficiencies, stable and long-term conversion capabilities, wide variety of possible valuable products, low requirements for water and land use, and sustainability of the catalyst used, which consists of naturally occurring, self-regenerating microorganisms. Nevertheless, bio-electrocatalytic CO2 conversion suffers from low production rates. On the contrary, metal electrocatalysts can achieve higher production rates, but are prone to deactivation over time, and present a limited product spectrum for CO2 conversion. Interestingly, besides complementing each other in terms of advantages and disadvantages, metal and bio-electrocatalysts can operate under similar conditions, and share some reaction intermediates (hydrogen, formate, carbon monoxide). This has inspired several researchers to combine the two types of catalysts for the co-catalytic CO2 conversion. However, in addition to the catalytic effects, non-catalytic effects can also occur upon combination of the two types of catalysts, such as bio-fouling, poisoning or toxicity, and these effects are often overlooked in studies focusing on co-catalytic conversions. On the other hand, several studies investigate the non-catalytic effects of added metals on bio-electrodes, such as the increased conductivity and surface roughness, which improves the bio-electrocatalytic activity. However, the catalytic effects of metals are often not reported in these studies. The objective of this project is to investigate both the catalytic and non-catalytic effects that arise upon combining metal and bio-electrocatalysts. This systematic investigation will improve the understanding of the complicated phenomena that take place when metals and bio-electrocatalysts are combined. This investigation may also help contribute to rational design considerations for co-catalytic electrodes.
Effective start/end date1/03/1516/11/22


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