Empa speeds up SynFuels project experiments by a factor of ten

27 June 2024 12:17

Zurich CCGreater Zurich

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Dübendorf - Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) have developed a system that can be used to research CO2 electrolysis ten times faster. With this, they hope to discover how to obtain synthetic fuels (synfuels) from CO2.

A new system at Empa can conduct ten CO2 electrolysis experiments in parallel. According to a report from Empa, researchers at the institute’s Materials for Energy Conversion Laboratory have developed a system that can be used to examine up to ten different reaction conditions as well as catalyst and electrode materials simultaneously within the context of the SynFuels project.

This means that research to obtain fuels from carbon dioxide progresses ten times faster and thus that the ideal composition of the end products can be discovered much sooner. The composition can be controlled in many different ways, such as via the reaction conditions, the catalyst used, and the electrode microstructures.

According to the information provided, the system consists of ten small reactors. Each is connected to multiple supply lines and outlets for liquids and gases via several hundred meters of tubing as well as to various measurement instruments. This means that parameters such as pressure, temperature, gas flows, and liquid and gaseous reaction products can be recorded completely automatically with high temporal resolution.

To achieve this, the team developed the world’s first online liquid chromatography device with the Danish company Agilent Technologies. This identifies and quantifies the liquid reaction products in real time even during electrolysis.

Alessandro Senocrate, a postdoctoral researcher at Empa, commented: “As far as we know, this is the first system of its kind for CO2 electrolysis. It yields a large number of high-quality datasets, which will help us make accelerated discoveries.” The work has been published in the specialist journal Nature Catalysis. ce/mm

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