Empa accelerates SynFuel experiments by a factor of 10

Dübendorf ZH – Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) have developed a system that can be used to research the electrolysis of CO2 ten times faster. Their aim is to find out how synthetic fuels (SynFuels) can be produced from CO2.

A new Empa facility can carry out ten CO2 electrolysis experiments in parallel. As part of the SynFuels project, researchers from Empa's Materials for Energy Conversion laboratory have developed a system that can be used to investigate up to ten different reaction conditions and catalyst and electrode materials simultaneously, according to an Empa report.

This means that research into the production of fuels from carbon dioxide is progressing ten times faster and that the ideal composition of the end products can be found much sooner. This is because their composition can be controlled in many different ways, for example by the reaction conditions, by the catalyst used and by the microstructure of the electrodes.

According to the information provided, the system consists of ten small reactors. Each is connected to several supply and discharge lines for gases and liquids and to various measuring instruments via hundreds of meters of hoses. Parameters such as pressure, temperature, gas flows and the liquid and gaseous reaction products are recorded fully automatically with high temporal resolution.

To this end, the team has developed the world's first online liquid chromatography device in collaboration with the Danish company Agilent Technologies. It identifies and quantifies the liquid reaction products in real time during electrolysis.

"As far as we know, this is the first system of its kind for CO2 electrolysis," Empa postdoctoral researcher Alessandro Senocrate is quoted as saying. "It provides a large number of high-quality data sets that will help us to make discoveries more quickly." The work was published in the journal "Nature Catalysis". ce/mm

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