Yuxiang Cai

Overview Pioneer
ESR: 10
Title: Plasma-catalytic CO2 hydrogenation for the production of molecules for green chemistry
Home Institution: University of Liverpool (UoL)
1st Supervisor: Xin Tu
Host Institution: University of Antwerp (UAntwerpen)
2nd Supervisor: Annemie Bogaerts
Industrial Partner: Johnson Matthey
Industrial Contact: Peter Hinde


In this project, a hybrid plasma-catalytic process will be developed for the conversion of CO2 (with renewable hydrogen) into value-added chemicals (e.g. methanol, ethanol, DME) at low temperatures and atmospheric pressure. The effect of different catalytic materials on the plasma-catalytic CO2 hydrogenation will be evaluated in terms of the conversion of CO2, the selectivity of products and the energy efficiency of the hybrid process. Different plasma systems (dielectric barrier discharge and gliding arc) together with different plasma-catalyst packing methods will be investigated. A wide range of catalyst characterization techniques will be used to understand the role of different catalysts in the plasma-catalyst interactions and plasma-catalytic CO2 hydrogenation. A fundamental understanding of the role of different energetic or reactive species in the plasma-catalytic CO2 hydrogenation will be available by combined means of gas/liquid analysis (GC/GCMS) and plasma diagnostics including optical emission spectroscopy and high speed photography.

Links with other ESR

Expected Results

  • Understand the role of energetic electrons and reactive species in the plasma-catalytic CO2 hydrogenation
  • Obtain the cost-effective and optimal catalysts for the production of target chemicals with special focus on chemical nature of active metal and support materials
  • Understand the roles of catalysts in the plasma-catalytic CO2 hydrogenation
  • Insight into the reaction mechanisms and pathways from catalyst characterisation and plasma diagnostics


  • UAntwerp: Support by modeling work and understanding the underlying mechanisms
  • Johnson Matthey: Production of catalytic materials