Beatrice Musig

Hi, I’m Beatrice, Italian by origin. Currently, I am working as a PhD student at Instituto de Carboquimica (ICB-CSIC) in Zaragoza and at Sorbonne Université. I studied Bachelor Physics at Università degli Studi di Parma. To further broaden to multidisciplinary topics, I moved to Belgium and then Germany to complete my Master’s studies, joining the NANO Erasmus Mundus (EMM) programme. I loved and valued the rich international experience of EMM, I hope to continue this cultural and scientific exchange by taking the next step as ESR within the PIONEER consortium. My scientific interests revolve around the applications of Nanotechnologies. During my Master’s thesis at TU Dresden, I had the opportunity to delve into environmental applications, which I found very close to my personal concerns and motivation. The topic that I will be researching combines very well my interests: it deals with nanostructured ceria catalysts for plasma-assisted CO2 methanation for the production of green and recycled fuel. I am looking forward to actively join this large European network.

Overview Pioneer
ESR: 8
Title: Nanostructured catalysts for plasma-assisted CO2 methanation
Home Institution: Instituto de Carboquímica (CSIC – ICB)
1st Supervisor: Maria Victoria Navarro
Host Institution: Sorbonne University (SU)
2nd Supervisor: Elena Galvez
Secondment: Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas (CNRS-LPP)
Defence: October 20 2023


Among the different processes for carbon capture and utilisation, CO2 methanation is experiencing a renaissance as a promising technology for the development of Power-to-gas as an energy storage solution and carbon circular economy. The field of plasma catalysis, which considers the association of a catalyst with non-thermal plasma, has been recently developed for boosting CO2 methanation. The challenges of plasma catalysis focus on taking advantage of the activated species and electrons created by the plasma to achieve more favourable reaction pathways and interaction with the active sites of the catalyst and on plasma-catalyst synergy, meaning the enhancement of the catalyst properties by contact with plasma and vice versa.

The goal of this work is to explore the effect of morphology and physicochemical properties of nanostructured Ni/CeO2 catalysts on plasma-catalyst synergy and to highlight the key characteristics of the catalysis that control an efficient plasma-assisted CO2 methanation in order to advance in the rational design of materials tailored for applications in plasma catalysis.

For the plasma-assisted CO2 methanation tests, a suitable non-thermal plasma type is the dielectric barrier discharge due to mild temperature conditions, which allow the catalyst to be in direct contact with the plasma in a packed bed configuration, and operation at atmospheric pressure, promising for industrial applications. Nickel catalysts supported on Ce-based metal oxides have been proposed in recent publications for plasma-assisted CO2 methanation. Ni is a reliable solution as it is active for CO2 methanation as well as cost-effective. Cerium oxide (CeO2) is an interesting material to be used as support thanks to its redox properties related to the tendency to form oxygen vacancies. Such property can be tuned by enhancing the non-stoichiometric nature of the CeO2 surface, either by doping or, as in this case, by morphology modification, which has been reported for cerium oxide to be controllable via synthesis method. The parameters of the hydrothermal synthesis were varied and CeO2 nanomaterials with different morphology (polyhedra, nanorods, nanocubes), crystallite size, and surface area were produced. The Ni catalysts synthesised with these supports were further characterised by state-of-the-art techniques to examine the most relevant physicochemical properties, e.g., surface area, reducibility and metal-support interaction, surface basicity, and formation of oxygen vacancies. In addition, the electrical behaviour of the catalysts was assessed with focus on how the materials affect the plasma discharge, charge transfer, and the dielectric property of the packed bed. FTIR operando technique was utilised to suggest a possible reaction pathway of the plasma-assisted CO2 methanation on Ni/CeO2.

In conclusion, it was found that the physicochemical properties which are relevant in conventional thermal methanation, such as surface area and basicity, are applicable to plasma catalysis but the importance of low dielectric permittivity of the catalyst and charge transfer mechanism was also highlighted for an energy efficient plasma-assisted methanation process. Furthermore, a rod or needle-like CeO2 support allows enhancing the surface defects, the interaction with Ni, and macroporosity, which seem to facilitate the methanation reaction in plasma via formate route.

Links with other ESR


  • SU: Trained in the catalyst synthesis methods relating synthesis conditions with catalyst properties development at CSIC-ICB as well as in the use of plasma equipment and gas products analysis (GC) at SU. In addition, different tools will be provided to the ESR to analyze characterization results of catalysts.
  • CNRS-LPP: Additional plasma diagnostic methods, especially on radicals
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