Electrified CO2 conversion : integrating experimental, computational, and process simulation methods for sustainable chemical synthesis
Nowadays, the burning of fossil fuels, particularly petroleum, natural gas, and coal, meets the rising need for power and fuels for automobiles and industries. This has given rise to ecological and climate challenges. This thesis explores these issues from three distinct perspectives: (i) experimental, (ii) computational, and (iii) process simulation, with a focus on studying CO2 as an alternative and economically viable raw material. Firstly, the experimental study is focused on the synthesis, characterization, and testing of novel catalysts for electroreduction of CO2 and oxalic acid, an intermediate product of CO2. Electrocatalysts based on Cu supported by citrus (orange and lemon) peel biomass are prepared. These catalysts exhibit activity in the electrochemical reduction of CO2, emphasizing the effectiveness of biomasses, particularly orange peels, as environmentally friendly precursors for sustainable and efficient electrocatalysts. In addition, graphitic carbon nitrides/TiO2 nanotubes (g-C3N4/TiNT) composites are prepared for the electrocatalytic reduction of oxalic acid to glycolic acid, revealing superior electrocatalytic properties compared to pristine TiNT. Characterization by X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and scanning electronic microscopy were performed for all the prepared electrocatalysts. Delving into the reduction of CO2 on Cu catalysts, a computational study about the synthesis of methanol on Cu(111) surface is performed by using the Vienna Ab initio Simulation Package. A systematic study is carried out to define the activation energies of the elementary reactions by using mGGA DF. Consequently, it is shown that the rate-controlling step is CH3O* hydrogenation and the formate pathway on Cu(111) proceeds through the HCOOH* intermediate. Finally, the process simulation, performed by using the software Aspen Plus 11 from AspenTech Inc., is based on the comparison of a catalytic (oxidation of ethylene glycol) and an electrocatalytic process (CO2 electroreduction chain) to synthesize glycolic acid. An economic analysis of the operational and investment costs reveals that the catalytic process is more cost-effective due to the current instability of electrocatalysts and proton exchange membranes, resulting in increased maintenance costs and, consequently, higher prices for the product.
Messina : University of Messina & University of Antwerp , 2024
xv, 152 p.
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Creation 22.04.2024
Last edited 23.04.2024
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