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Title:Microfluidic platform for studying the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide
Author(s):Whipple, Devin T.
Director of Research:Kenis, Paul J.A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kenis, Paul J.A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Krein, Philip T.; Schroeder, Charles M.; Zhao, Huimin
Department / Program:Chemical & Biomolecular Engr
Discipline:Chemical Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):electrochemical reduction
carbon dioxide
Abstract:Diminishing supplies of conventional energy sources and growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions present significant challenges to supplying the world’s rapidly increasing demand for energy. The electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide has the potential to address many of these issues by providing a means of storing electricity in chemical form. Storing electrical energy as chemicals is beneficial for leveling the output of clean, but intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Electrical energy stored as chemicals can also be used as carbon neutral fuels for portable applications allowing petroleum derived fuels in the transportation sector to be replaced by more environmentally friendly energy sources. However, to be a viable technology, the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide needs to have both high current densities and energetic efficiencies (Chapter 1). Although many researchers have studied the electrochemical reduction of CO2 including parameters such as catalysts, electrolytes and temperature, further investigation is needed to improve the understanding of this process and optimize the performance (Chapter 2). This dissertation reports the development and validation of a microfluidic reactor for the electrochemical reduction of CO2 (Chapter 3). The design uses a flowing liquid electrolyte instead of the typical polymer electrolyte membrane. In addition to other benefits, this flowing electrolyte gives the reactor great flexibility, allowing independent analysis of each electrode and the testing of a wide variety of conditions. In this work, the microfluidic reactor has been used in the following areas: • Comparison of different metal catalysts for the reduction of CO2 to formic acid and carbon monoxide (Chapter 4). • Investigation of the effects of the electrolyte pH on the reduction of CO2 to formic acid and carbon monoxide (Chapter 5). • Study of amine based electrolytes for lowering the overpotentials for CO2 reduction and suppressing undesirable hydrogen evolution (Chapter 6). • Investigation of the effects of reaction temperature on the Faradaic efficiency and current density for CO2 reduction on several catalysts (Chapter 7). These studies demonstrate the utility of this flexible reactor design and provide increased understanding of the electrochemical reduction of CO2 and the critical parameters for optimization of this process.
Issue Date:2011-08-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Devin T. Whipple
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-27
Date Deposited:2011-08

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