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Plasmonic contributions to N2 and CO2 co-electrolysis

Grant number: 22/04604-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2022
Effective date (End): May 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Physical-Chemistry
Principal researcher:Susana Inés Córdoba de Torresi
Grantee:Leandro Augusto Faustino
Home Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:21/00675-4 - Tying up materials for electrochemical energy storage and catalysis, AP.TEM


In the agroindustry, urea (NH2CONH2) is of great importance as a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Urea synthesis is conventionally operated at high pressure and high temperature by the mixture of CO2 with NH3. Ammonia is produced from high purity N2 and H2 gases at high temperatures and pressures via the HaberBosch process. Electrocatalytic N2 reduction to ammonia is an attractive alternative that can potentially enable ammonia synthesis under milder conditions in small-scale, distributed, and on-site electrolysis cells powered by renewable electricity generated. The electrochemical ammonia synthesis has only garnered significant research interest since 2015 . The major challenges in electrochemical ammonia synthesis are related to the low activity and selectivity of currently available electrocatalysts for N2 reduction. Therefore, significant improvements to cell materials, including electrocatalysts and electrolytes, would be needed to achieve those targets. One important approach was based on electrocatalysts with iron in their composition, forming single atom active sites . Particularly for the case of iron single atoms, the obtained faradaic efficiencies were close to 56.5%. Therefore, this is an encouraging aspect for addressing the challenge related to the urea synthesis via CO2 and N2 co-electrolysis. This topic is totally new in literature and just now has been reported with a faradaic efficiency of ca. 9%, and it will be final target of this project.Considering the topics described above, this research project aims to study, in situ the co- electrolysis of CO2 and N2 to form ureia. Here, it is proposed the use of bimetallic and oxide nanoestructures developed in our laboratories together with ILs in order to investigate this very hot topic. The decoration of the nanoestructures with plasmonic materials is also planned to investigate the effect of surface plasmonics on these recations.

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