349749 Molecular Design of a Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell for Co-Electrolysis of CO2 and H2O to Produce Synthesis Gas

Monday, November 4, 2013
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton)
Enxhi Xhafa, Ayad Nacy and Eranda Nikolla, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

The goal of this project is to develop a thermodynamically and economically efficient approach to harness electrical energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind and store it in chemical form. With the limitations of existing infrastructure, it is necessary that we develop a platform for storing renewable energy in the form of liquid fuels. We propose to develop efficient solid oxide electrolyser (SOE) systems that will allow for co-electrolysis of CO2 and H2O to produce synthesis gas (syngas), a precursor for the synthesis of liquid fuel via Fischer-Topsch Synthesis (FTS). SOEs are solid-state electrochemical devices that can in principle electrolyze CO2 and H2O with high efficiency. A significant challenge that limits the efficiency of these systems is the overpotential losses at the cathode due to the low activity of the current state of the art electrocatalyst, Ni. Our initial quantum chemical calculations suggest that alloying Ni with another metal such as Ir can significantly improve the activity of the SOE. In this contribution we discuss our efforts in synthesizing, testing and characterizing the activity of Ir/Ni alloys toward co-reduction of CO2 and H2O to syngas. We anticipate that the development of an Ir/Ni cathode SOEC will improve the electrochemical conversion of atmospheric CO2 and steam to produce the optimal mixture of syngas that can be directly used to maximize the yield of liquid hydrocarbons via FTS.

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