Ongoing shift within the chemical industry to use electrical power instead of fossil fuels has started. Electricity can be used as energy input to drive reactions, or, as the next step, enable novel electrocatalytic conversions at mild conditions. A particularly promising route is the electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to CO (carbon monoxide). CO (annual production about 75 Mt, main feedstocks are methane and coal) is an important intermediate for the production of petrochemical products and plastics.
In this context, we develop a platinum group metal (PGM) free CO2-electrolyzer with high selectivity at ambient temperatures in aqueous electrolytes using anion exchange membranes (AEM). The flow cell includes molecular catalysts (Fe, Co) at the cathode, a strong originality of the project. The post-doctorate associate will participate in developing novel catalysts and perform cell characterization in lab scale environment. In a collaborative effort, several international partners produce novel paper-based highly porous electrodes, assemble and test cells and stacks based on catalysts and electrodes from the project.
Position is at the LEM (Laboratoire d’Electrochimie Moléculaire) at Université de Paris. As mentioned above, this project is an international collaborative effort with academic and industrial partners (Air Liquide, Papiertechnische Stiftung (PTS), Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ)).
Profile: the candidate must possess research track record with several first authored publications in recognized international journals within the field of electrochemistry and/or electrocatalysis and electrochemical devices. Experience with industrial and scientific collaborations will be considered advantageous. Previous experience with supervision of doctoral students will be considered beneficial. Excellent communication skills in both written and spoken English is all-important.
In the last years, the reduction of carbon dioxide into useful organic compounds and fuels has become a major and intense research field. One route to this goal consists in first converting sunlight energy into electricity than could be further used to reduce CO2 electrochemically. Another approach is to directly use the visible photons from sunlight and to drive the reduction of the gas into “solar fuels”, leading to solar energy into chemical bonds.
Our group has shown that iron porphyrins are currently the most efficient molecular catalysts for the CO2 to CO reduction in aprotic solvent as well as in water (Science 2012, 338, 90; JACS 2016, 138, 16639) but these compounds even proved to be the first molecular catalysts able to reduce CO2 into CH4 upon visible light irradiation (Nature 2017, 548, 74; JACS 2018, 140, 17830).
In this context, we have set a research consortium called MARS (Renewable Solar MethAne) with the French gas distribution companies (GRDF, GRTgaz and Térega). One major goal of this research project is to build a photochemical cell prototype at the lab scale.
In parallel to the mechanistic investigations currently done in the group by combining electrochemistry, photochemistry and spectroscopy, as well as theoretical calculations, the PDRA, in strong interaction with the experimentalists in the group, will be in charge of the design and the development of a photochemical cell prototype and evaluation of its performances (light absorption efficiency, selectivity and rate, stability, etc.).
The candidate must hold a doctoral degree in chemistry or chemical engineering. She/he should be familiar with molecular chemistry and be skilled in the design of cells at the lab scale. The candidate should be highly motivated for interacting with experimentalists and industrial partners. English is mandatory.
The position is for 12 months (with possible extension).
Contact: REACTE team
Prof. Marc Robert (email@example.com)
Dr. Julien Bonin (firstname.lastname@example.org)