||PE4_10 Heterogeneous catalysis
PE4_12 Chemical reactions: mechanisms, dynamics, kinetics and catalytic reactions
PE4_4 Surface science and nanostructures
||GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 13: Climate Action
||Centi Gabriele (email@example.com)
||University of Messina
ChiBioFarAm (Chemistry, Biology, Pharmaceutical and Environmental Chemistry)
To accelerate the transition to the replacement of fossil fuels and close the carbon cycle, it is necessary to develop devices called artificial leaves to produce solar fuels in a distributed approach capable of integrating more effectively with the territory and its resources, enhancing its resilience, and with a direct boosted contribution to reduce the emissions of CO2 (both reusing this molecule and using solar energy for its conversion) and the territory impact on climate changes. This objective requires a holistic system approach, which integrates fundamental knowledge of applied, engineering and industrial, and socio-economic aspects. The proposed research integrates fundamental studies on materials and mechanistic aspects, with the technological and engineering development of the devices, with analysis also of socio-economic aspects related to the use of these devices and their impact on the mitigation of CC and the replacement of fossil fuels. The study will address the development of artificial leaves to produce solar fuels to be used for local renewable energy chains, a priority indicated in recent national priorities to promote sustainability of regions in the south of Italy. Specifically, the aim is a decentralized production / storage to boost the transition to "intelligent" forms of energy generation and distribution. Artificial leaves are devices that using solar energy to convert molecules such as H2O, CO2 and N2 (widely available) into solar fuels (H2, methanol, NH3, respectively), acting as chemical energy storage molecules for transport and distributed use of renewable energy (solar) replacing the need of fossil fuels, therefore drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with an enhancement of local renewable energy resources , overcoming the limits associated with fluctuations in demand and load imbalances in the renewable energy production. Artificial leaves (photoelectrocatalytic devices that are inspired by the processes in nature present in leaves) are systems that by their design are ideal for smart systems and grids in regions such as Sicily, but which are also at the center of vast initiatives in Europe and in the world, in which the proposing group participates through various European and international projects, as they represent one of the development frontiers for the energy transition. The reference person, and associated research group, currently coordinates a European project on these devices, and participates in another one on artificial leaves, as well as coordinating / participating in several other European and international projects on this issue, and other similar projects on the electrocatalytic conversion of CO2. He is also on the board of major European initiatives such as SUNERGY. In addition, the PhD student will be inserted in a highly international environment, where other PhDs, part of an international Doctorate with industrial character on renewable energy, or post-docs in the frame of various EU projects, including an ERC Synergy grant, will operate, thus allowing to further expand the interdisciplinary character of the SSCC National Doctorate, providing in additions direct links with frontier research and companies in the area of energy transition.
|Research team and environment:
The research team where the PhD student will operate is composed by two full professors, one associate professor, 5 researchers and about 10-20 PhD/post-docs on aspects related to the development of sustainable processes for chemistry and energy (are industrial chemistry and engineering), with an interdisciplinary approach combining chemistry, material science, engineering, and physics. The research team has many running international EU projects, including an ERC Synergy, and well established international (worldwide) collaborations and networks with research centers and companies in the area of catalysis for clear energy and CO2 conversion, sustainable processes and technologies beyond fossil fuels. The students will operate at the CASPE center (Laboratory of Catalysis for Sustainable Production and Energy) of the University of Messina (and reference center for the InterUniversity Consortium INSTM on science and technology of materials, which has spaces and advanced equipment (ww2.Unime.It/catalysis) suitable for carrying out the planned research. The spaces available to the CASPE center, following the recent renovation, are approximately 550 m2 (in five modules, two of which are dedicated to laboratory systems for catalytic testing (including photo and electrocatalytic systems), three for the instrumental characterization of catalysts and their synthesis. The research will deal on the development (synthesis, characterization, and testing) of the nanomaterials/electrodes for the artificial leaf device, their study and engineering, the assessment of the technology. PhD students will typically operate in close collaboration with other early-stage researchers, a direct supervision by one or more experience researchers, and one professor.
Scientific/technical knowledge on: chemistry, material science, industrial chemistry and catalysis, engineering of devices, characterization of solids, testing of photo/electro materials, analysis of the mechanisms of solar-induced processes in nanomaterials, assessment methodologies. Transferable skills: team working in an international context, a problem-solver approach and critical thinking, research skills from fundamental to applied and industrial, capability of autonomous operations and leadership, managing and report in international projects, communication skills.