Domenico Aceto

Hello everyone! My name is Domenico Aceto, an overenthusiastic scientist who always strives to unravel what makes nature’s cogs tick. I originally come from Bari, a city in southern Italy, where I graduated in Chemistry for both my Bachelor and Master’s degree. I studied the applications of plasmas on materials, ranging from the engineering to the biomedical field, and in the process remained fascinated with the endless potential that plasmas offer to human life. The pursuit of knowledge always pushed me forward, so at the end of my studies I knew I wanted to take on a PhD. This was when I learnt about the PIONEER program, which looked to me like an outstanding way to couple my desire to continue working on plasmas with the possibility of concretely helping out humanity in the current climate change crisis offering solutions to deal with CO2, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gas. Shifting how CO2 is perceived, from dangerous waste to useful resource, is in fact a key challenge for the future. This may seems way too ambitious to you, but just wait a couple of decades until all PIONEER ESRs will be awarded with the Nobel prize!

Nowadays I am a PhD student at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST-CATHPRO) in Lisbon, Portugal, as a part of the aforementioned MSCA PIONEER program. My research focuses on the design of innovative catalysts for the CO2 methanation reaction, with the goal to couple them with plasma to unlock and discover new properties and ways to enhance the reaction that cannot be achieved under conventional thermal catalysis. Moreover, I will be taking a closer look at those systems (catalysts under plasma) utilizing OPERANDO FT-IR spectroscopy at the CNRs-LCS laboratories in Caen, France. These measurements will be of great help to understand the reaction mechanism, which is not fully understood yet. I hope that my work, in association with the one of all the participants in the PIONEER program, will help bring a brighter and better future to us all, so wish all of us good luck!

Overview Pioneer
ESR: 5
Title: Valorization and optimization of plasma assisted CO2 catalytic reduction of CO2 methanation
Home Institution: Instituto Superior Técnico Lisboa (IST-CATHPRO )
1st Supervisor: Carlos Henriques
Host Institution: Laboratoire Catalyse & Spectrochimie (CNRS-LCS)
2nd Supervisor: Federico Azzolina-Jury
Industrial Partner: Green Syn Fuel
Industrial Contact: José João Campos Rodrigues
Defence: May 17 2024


CO2 can be used as chemical reagent and CO2 hydrogenation allows obtaining low-carbon synthetic fuels. In particular, CO2 hydrogenation for methane production (Sabatier reaction) is a most interesting solution since CH4 can be directly injected into already existing natural gas network. Non-thermal plasmas have recently started to be studied as a novel energy source to perform the CO2 methanation reaction, together with heterogeneous catalysts. Preliminary results, obtained under glow-discharge conditions, show that methanation catalysts behaviour strongly NWO-I from results obtained under classical heating. On the contrary results obtain under DBD induced catalysis follow those obtained under classical heating. Furthermore it is clear that plasma induced CO2 methanation catalysis strongly depend on catalysts composition, even when no significant differences were observed when catalytic tests were performed under classical heating.

Links with other ESRs

  • ESR 1: Comparison with results for correlation between surface electric field and surface reactivity as well as important data for the design of catalyst

Expected Result

  • Preparation of efficient catalysts for catalytic methanation of CO2
  • Conceive of an optimized system to perform the plasma-assisted CO2 methanation
  • Study of reaction mechanism under OPERANDO FTIR both glow-discharge and DBD plasma-assisted conditions. Direct observation of surface reaction mechanism
  • Comparison of catalytic results obtained under plasma-assisted and classical heating and CO2 methanation.


  • CNRS-LCS: Obtaining in-situ IR measurements with the OPERANDO setup from CNRS-LCS for the catalytic materials developed at IST-CATHPRO
  • Green Syn Fuel: Realistic design of industrial reactors
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