One of the greatest challenges of our generation is to implement sustainable and ‘energy smart’ chemical manufacturing processes. This can be accomplished via the electrification of the chemical industry, where electrons serve as a clean redox reagent to drive processes under mild conditions. This would avoid stoichiometric amounts of reagent waste from toxic chemical oxidants/reductants, and help resolve intermittency issues associated with renewables, as excess supply could be directed and stored into a stable chemical bond. However, to reach this goal, efficient and selective electrocatalysts are required. ‘Single-site catalysts’ today represent a new frontier, devised as a means to circumvent the issues regarding the non-uniformity and multi-faceted nature of conventional heterogeneous catalysts, which often experience poor selectivity towards the targeted reaction. Merging the benefits of electro- and single-site catalysis into a complete heterogeneous system is thus a highly innovative and sustainable approach towards modernising synthetic processes. In this MSCA action, I will therefore design novel, single-site, heterogeneous electrocatalysts, comprised of earth-abundant components, for conducting valorised and energy-storing C-C coupling reactions under continuous-flow conditions. In particular, my first objective will be to acquire fundamental insight into the design, development and understanding of precious-metal-free single-site electrocatalytic systems for the purposes of conducting such organic transformations. This project will then go a step further, to rationally engineer and manufacture catalytic flow reactors, in order to intensify the targeted process via the numerous benefits that flow chemistry offers in place of conventional batch electrochemical cells.
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