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Surface functionalization with thiols: a novel strategy in catalyst design for the efficient reduction of CO2 to C2 products

Project description

Novel catalysts help turn CO2 into fuel and chemicals

Catalysts are essential components of chemical reactions, both those occurring in nature and those engineered for applications. Without them, many reactions would not proceed or would do so at rates so slow that they would be rendered useless. Electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to other chemicals is one of these reactions. It is an important way to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and foster a circular economy, but the current catalysts are highly inefficient. The EU-funded STRATCAT-CO2 project will develop techniques to enhance the catalytic conversion of CO2 to ethanol and ethylene, a key fuel and a chemical building block, respectively.


By enabling the use of CO2 as a medium for energy storage and as a feedstock for chemical production, the electrochemical reduction of CO2 (eCO2RR) is a potentially transformative technology for the European chemical and energy sectors in view of the European Union’s climate action roadmap. Ethanol and ethylene are high-value eCO2RR products with key roles as a fuel and as a chemical building block, respectively. However, current electrocatalysts are very inefficient in producing these multi-carbon compounds. This action proposes the investigation of an exciting and highly innovative strategy in eCO2RR catalysis—based on functionalizing the catalyst surface with tailored thiol ligands—with a clear potential to overcome the mechanistic hurdles toward C2 product formation. To this end, STRATCAT-CO2 will adopt an interdisciplinary approach combining model catalysts, state-of-the-art characterization, and a close synergy between experimental and theoretical research to gain a mechanistic understanding of surface functionalization that can guide catalyst development. In addition, this action will build bridges between fundamental efforts and electrode and device engineering to achieve breakthrough performance under conditions relevant for practical implementation. STRATCAT-CO2 will provide fresh perspectives in catalyst design for the eCO2RR and, by reaching the foreseen performance targets, set the basis for the development of new electrochemical processes for ethanol and ethylene production. Furthermore, this action will establish an intra-European interdisciplinary network between emerging researchers at DTU and TU Delft. STRATCAT-CO2 will allow the Experienced Researcher to consolidate a diverse set of technical competences uniquely suited for cutting-edge catalysis research, gain skills and credentials in teaching and supervision, and expand his collaboration network, thereby strengthening his career prospects toward achieving research independence.


Net EU contribution
€ 207 312,00
Anker engelunds vej 101
2800 Kongens lyngby

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Danmark Hovedstaden Københavns omegn
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00