ESR 14

Host institution: University of Bucharest (UoB)
Supervisor: Vasile Parvulescu
Start date: September 2019
Gross salary: ~27 000 € /year (may vary according to institution).


Title: Plasma-assisted production of organic acids by reacting CO2 with water

Objectives: 

Non-thermal plasma in contact with water will be used to convert CO2 into organic acids. Corona discharges generated in gas bubbles inside the liquid and dielectric barrier discharges in gas-liquid environment are considered. The plasma has a double role: (i) to produce vibrationally excited CO2, and (ii) to dissociate H2O molecules, generating H and OH radicals. Subsequent chemical reactions between excited CO2 and these reactive species will be promoted at the gas-liquid interface, resulting in the formation of organic acids. The reaction pathways will be studied for various reactor designs and experimental conditions to achieve efficient and selective conversion of CO2. Design and synthesis of manganese-based catalysts will be carried out with the scope to activate CO2 excited species. Nanocasting method will be applied to obtain very stable manganese-based catalysts with high surface area as replica of different silica templates such as KIT-6 and SBA-15 to tune up crystallite size and mean pore size. In addition, catalyst key parameters such as oxygen defects, surface area, pore size distribution and surface area can be modified changing variables during the impregnation step. Obviously, activation of CO2 is possible on the multivalent/defected oxides. On the other side, further transformation by water of these activated CO2 molecules would be catalysed by Lewis acid species that would be generated on the same type of oxides. Not at the end, the catalytic system should not be blocked by the produced organic acid.

A new plasma-chemical technique for CO2 recycling and valorisation by conversion into organic acids will be studied. The method is based on electrical discharges generated at the gas-liquid interface. To determine its future potential, investigations of the effect of reactor design, discharge characteristics, addition of catalysts etc. will be carried out, aimed at obtaining efficient and selective CO2 conversion. Manganese-based catalysts for the production of organic acids via the conversion of CO2 in water will be as well produced at CSIC-ICB. This project will give the ESR a strong training in synthesis, spectroscopy and homogeneous heterogeneous catalysis, together with the special concepts required for applications to fluorinated molecules.

Expected Results:

  • Investigating plasma in contact with liquid for organic acids synthesis from CO2
  • Development of catalytic materials for this peculiar configuration

Co-supervisor: Tomás García at (CSIC-ICB), 18 months to gain catalyst synthesis insight through nanocasting method with different templates

Additional secondment: s An additional secondment is planned at CNRS-LPP for the expertise of Olivier Guaitella in plasma in contact with water (3 months)