Scientific Challenges

The overarching objective of the program is to realize the efficient and scalable production of fuels and base chemicals using renewable electricity. For this purpose, novel, scalable electrochemical processes will be developed with strongly improved conversion efficiency, product selectivity and robustness. Since we employ an integrated approach involving the design of the whole conversion system, our program is not just on understanding catalysis or developing new materials. We cover the full range from understanding materials at the nano-scale to modelling the integrated reactor at the macro scale. Eventually, this E2CB program will lead to blue-prints of viable and scalable electrochemical processes and systems, as substantiated by lab scale demonstrators.

Coherency and cross-cutting activities of the program as a whole

Key Challenges

The key challenges for our program are at all system levels: materials design, electrochemistry and reactor and process design. Reactor design and scale-up depend on transport phenomena which dictate geometry and length scales. These latter determine the materials’ choice for catalysts and their fabrication. We take the production of base chemicals as leading examples, using realistic industrial feeds. This leads to the following challenges:

  • Developing electrodes and membranes optimized for high throughput conversion
  • Understand and mitigate the impact of impurities in the feedstock (e.g. blast furnace gas) on the electrochemical processes
  • Demonstrating the feasibility of co-conversion systems wherein both the oxidation and the reduction reaction lead to useful products
  • Designing/demonstrating lab-scale conversion devices with an efficiency and selectivity large enough to be commercially attractive when developed as large scale systems
  • Developing design and scaling rules for large-scale electro-conversion systems

Research lines

The program requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving – besides materials, catalysis and electrochemistry- also the investigation of multiscale/multiphase transport phenomena, reactor design and scale-up and the handling of impure feedstocks coming from industrial processes. The synergy between the individual projects is described in the fig below.