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Synergy Grant 2018 - Annemie Bogaerts

Surface-confined fast-modulated Plasma for Process and Energy Intensification in Small Molecule Conversion (SCOPE)

The SCOPE project will introduce a ground-breaking approach to use renewable energy in three major industrial reactions: 1) N2 fixation, 2) CH4 valorisation and 3) CO2 conversion to liquid solar fuels. We will use non-thermal plasma, which has large potential to convert these small (low reactive) molecules under near ambient temperature and pressure, particularly for distributed processes based on renewable energy. The new processes have drastically lower carbon footprint (up to over 90% with respect to current ones). Furthermore, CO2 conversion is crucial for a world-based distribution of renewable energy. However, the selectivity and energy efficiency of plasma technologies for these reactions are too low, making radically new approaches necessary.

The Project idea is to realize a highly innovative approach for non-thermal plasma symbiosis with catalysis. By inducing excited states in solid catalysts to work in synergy with the excited short-lived plasma species, we introduce a brand new idea for catalyst-plasma symbiosis. In addition, we introduce a fully new concept of nano-/micro-plasma array through a novel electrode design, to generate the plasma at the catalyst surface, thereby overcoming long distance transport. By embedding ferro-magnetic nano-domains in the catalyst support and inducing radiofrequency heating, we create fast temperature modulations directly at the catalyst active sites. Combining these elements, the project will overcome the actual limits and enhance the selectivity and energy efficiency to levels suitable for exploitation. This requires a synergy over different scale elements: nano at catalyst, micro at the level of modelling plasma-generated species, milli at the reactor scale and mega at the plant level for sustainability-driven opportunity guidance and impact assessment by Life-Cycle-Assessment. The synergy value derives from the integration of the PI competencies over this entire dimensional-scale level.