393772 Plasma Catalysis for Materials and Energy Challenges
Low-pressure plasmas can be used for gas phase activation via electron-molecular reactions producing ions, radicals, metastables and photons that can be beneficial for catalysis of several technologically important reactions. First of all, when used along with heterogeneous catalysts, the plasma activation could lower the activation energy further. Such synergistic effect is termed here as plasma catalysis Plasma catalysis is emerging as one of the most promising alternatives to address energy and environmental challenges.
However, it is not clear whether one needs the same type of catalyst materials even for plasma environments or not. For example, the low-melting metals in the presence of plasmas can catalyze the growth of one-dimensional materials. In the absence of plasma activation, the molten metals do not exhibit any catalytic activity towards selective dissolution even with application of high temperatures. The reasons for such synergic effect with plasma activation and metal clusters suggest that such metals could be interesting for plasma catalysis research to address environmental/energy challenges in addition to materials growth. In this research program, using results from our prior research, new catalysts will be designed for studying carbon dioxide reduction using plasma catalysis approach. CO2 is a cheap, non-toxic and non-flammable, renewable feedstock compared to oil or coal for producing valuable chemicals and transportation fuels. However, the existing methods for CO2 reduction are not economically viable. The production of chemicals from CO2 could have a significant positive impact on the global carbon balance.