We study the use of proton and oxygen ion conducting ceramics for electrochemical reduction and conversion of low value raw materials for production of high-value products used in the manufacturing and chemical sectors.
We are tackling the worldwide problem of plastic pollution by conceptualizing and developing direct electrochemical routes to depolymerize plastics and concurrently producing useful and low-carbon products and fuels. We are developing proton conducting membrane reactors that exploit the co-ionic conductivity features of barium zirconates materials to ensure the stability, manufacturability, and high reaction yield for hydrogenation or hydrogenolysis reactions.
Electrochemical smelting of metal ores (electrowinning) would allow a substantial reduction of carbon emissions from the metals production sector. We conceptualize a solid state ceramic oxide reactor that will be able to perform electrowinning of metal oxides with renewable energy sources. This concept requires numerous novelties to be developed and constitutes a high-risk high-reward application.
We study eutectic mixtures of molten salt electrolytes to achieve electrochemical lime production. Lime production is one of the largest fractions of CO2 emissions in the cement industry. Therefore, we envision an electrochemical pathway to thermally integrate electrochemical lime production into existing cement plants.
We advance these concepts via numerous interdisciplinary collaborations with material science and chemical engineering colleagues. Electrochemical reactors are always designed for integration into larger systems for commercial scale-up.
Electrochemical systems that can be integrated into existing industrial manufacturing processes allow a conversion of the current carbon-intense production processes to alternatives powered by renewable energy vectors.
We are studying how to use Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOEC) to produce renewable hydrogen and thermally integrate the electrolysis module into a Direct Reduction Iron (DRI) plant for renewable steel production. Such system can replace current natural gas-based DRI and coal-based integrated cycle steel mills (Blast Furnace – Basic Oxygen Furnace cycles).
The integration of high temperature electrolysis also allows the utilization of the thermal power output of the industrial or manufacturing process, increasing the efficiency of the hydrogen generation step.