Host institution: Instituto Superior Técnico Lisboa (IST – IPFN)
Supervisor: Vasco Guerra
Start date: June 2019
Gross salary: ~27 000 € /year (may vary according to institution).

Title: Energy input and relaxation in atmospheric pressure CO2 plasmas


Greenhouse gas conversion has become one of the major scientific and technological challenges nowadays. An efficient storage of energy in chemical compounds produced from CO2 emissions, in particular in hydrocarbon-based fuels which could be straightforwardly integrated into the existing transport infrastructure, would be extremely interesting from the environmental, economical and societal points of view. In the last few years, the “indirect route” to CO2 dissociation by non-equilibrium plasmas, involving an enhancement of dissociation through the input of energy from the electrons into the vibrational degrees of freedom of the molecule, has been systematically studied. Preliminary results suggest that low-pressure plasmas seem to favor non-equilibrium and vibrational energy up-pumping. However, atmospheric pressure operation is better suited for industrial application. The aim of this work is to investigate the internal energy transfers and plasma reactivity in atmospheric pressure CO2 plasmas, identifying similarities and differences with low-pressure conditions. To this purpose, a self-consistent kinetic model will be developed, together with detailed experimental benchmarking using advanced optical techniques, in particular picosecond laser spectroscopy, to get a comprehensive characterization of the plasma and to facilitate a rich and meaningful comparison with the numerical simulations. This joint theoretical and experimental effort will allow understanding and optimizing the underlying mechanisms leading to CO2 dissociation.

Links with other ESRs: Comparison of model approaches with ESR 2 and 3 for optimization of vibrational kinetic description

Expected Results:

  • Experimental characterization of CO2 atmospheric pressure plasmas (CO2 APP’s)
  • Determination of the dissociation degree in CO2 APP’s
  • Development of a self-consistent model to study CO2 APP’s
  • Understanding the mechanisms of vibrational excitation in CO2 APP’s
  • Identification and analysis of the mechanisms leading to CO2 conversion in CO2 APP’s

Co-supervisor: Timo Gans (UoY), 18 months Measurements on APP’s will be performed at UoY while modeling and theoretical efforts will be done at IST-IPFN .

Additional secondment: Another secondment is planned at UAntwerpen for comparison of modeling approaches and numerical techniques (2 months)