Six tenure track researchers will focus on Electrochemical Conversion and Materials Research

Six researchers from the Netherlands and abroad have just received a tenure track position for projects in the field of Electrochemical Conversion and Materials (ECCM) to be carried out at Dutch institutions. These positions have been granted as part of the Electrochemical Conversion and Materials Tenure Track Call, launched by the ECCM committee in June 2019.

About the ECCM Tenure Track

In 2020 the Dutch Research Council (NWO) has funded six tenure track positions for research into Electrochemical Conversion and Materials as part of the ECCM Tenure Track Call. ECCM allows energy from electricity to be stored in chemical compounds, such as hydrogen. In doing so, ECCM provides a key to the new innovations demanded by society and can therefore open the door to great economic opportunities.

Below a summary of the six tenure tracks projects about to start, in alphabetical order:

Dr M.A. Altomare, University of Twente

Nanostructured electrodes harness renewable electricity in electrochemical production of chemicals and sustainable waste-water treatment 

Nanosized metal particles will be formed by exposing a thin metal film to high temperatures, a process known as ‘dewetting’. Under optimum conditions, this method produces particles with a specific crystal orientation and composition, making it possible to bring about crystal plane-dependent electrochemical reactions with high precision. Several reactions will be investigated, including hydrogenation of pyrolysis oil components, reductive conversion of nitrate in surface water and synthesis of hydrogen peroxide. An electrochemical approach to purification processes of this kind can play a significant part in making the chemical industry more sustainable and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr A.C. Garcia, University of Amsterdam

An electrifying combination

Combining renewable electricity with organic chemistry to make the chemical industry more sustainable is an approach that holds great promise. This project studies both fundamental and applied aspects of adding value to organic molecules through reaction with simple carbon and nitrogenous building blocks, such as carbon dioxide and ammonia.

Dr P.B. Groszewicz, Delft University of Technology

Electroceramic materials for a CO2-free future

Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power tend to be unpredictable in terms of the energy they can generate at any given time. Nevertheless, they provide the key to a CO2-neutral and fossil-free society. Finding efficient ways to store electricity and convert it into synthetic fuels is an essential step towards a successful energy transition. Electroceramics are integral to solid oxide cells for chemical conversion in battery materials and power electronics. This project will deploy spectroscopy and neutron scattering techniques to develop new electroceramic materials to make the above applications possible and contribute to the energy transition.

Dr L.W. Kiewidt, Wageningen University & Research

Green electricity for green molecules: electrocatalytic upgrading of biomass

Biomass offers a renewable alternative to fossil sources for the production of materials and chemicals. To fully realize this potential, biomass molecules need to be chemically modified. Using green electricity to directly convert these molecules through electrochemical reactions enables the genuinely sustainable production of materials and chemicals from renewable sources. To make sure that conversion results in the desired product, unique materials called electrocatalysts are required. This project aims to develop customized electrocatalysts capable of efficiently converting biomass in order to power the transition to a sustainable circular economy.

Dr R.V. Mom, Leiden University

Zooming in on the hydrogen economy: insights at atomic level with advanced spectroscopy

The concept behind the hydrogen economy is splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using surplus electrical power from wind and solar sources. This process can then be reversed when solar and wind power are in short supply. An inspired idea but also a costly one, due to the inefficiency and degradation of the electrodes that produce or convert oxygen. This project will go to the heart of these problems. By developing advanced X-ray spectroscopic techniques, I will enable the observation of electrodes at atomic level. This will allow me to pinpoint the parts of the atomic structure that determine electrode efficiency and degradation.

Dr M. Pérez-Fortes, Delft University of Technology

Addressing the multi-scale challenge of implementing electrochemical conversion

The electrochemical conversion of CO2 can support the transition to a sustainable energy system. This approach can store energy while opening up a new route for the production of chemicals. The successful application of electrochemical CO2 conversion will depend on our ability to find the most effective combinations of technologies, business models and socio-economic strategies. The aim of this project is to develop a novel assessment framework for CO2 electrochemical systems at different scales by integrating insights from technology, economics, value chains and policy.

Further details

About the ECCM Tenure Track Call: Bas van Schooten: +31 (0)70 3494197 or b.vanschooten@nwo.nl

For the original news item see NWO page