Professor: Tobias Hanrath
Project Description: Developing economically viable solutions to the valorization of CO2 as a chemical feedstock has received increasing attention in the face of increasing CO2 emissions and growing concerns about their impact on global climate change. Among the various technical solutions currently under investigation, reducing CO2 in electrochemical cells has emerged as an attractive and versatile option. A critical challenge is how to control the composition of products that the CO2 is transformed into. Directing the product selectivity towards the formation of ethylene is very attractive since ethylene is a very common (150 million tons/yr) feedstock in the chemical industry.
We have recently discovered that the selectivity of products generated in electrochemical CO2 reduction can be controlled by adjusting the temporal profile of the applied potential. Combined with recent advances in the fabrication of mesoporous electrodes with controlled structure and composition, the combined optimization of pulsing profile, electrode structure and electrolyte composition presents a rich area with intriguing scientific questions and opportunities for technological advances towards CO2 valorization. This project is inherently interdisciplinary and provides the student to work on related challenges spanning chemical engineering, materials science and interfacial electrochemistry.