PRIN 2022 / Pagot


Acronimo: HYDREAM
Titolo: Tailoring the HYDrophilic-hydrophobic Reaction zone for the Electrochemical nitrogen reduction reaction to AMmonia
Responsabile scientifico: dott.Gioele PAGOT - Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale-Università degli Studi di PADOVA
Coordinatore: prof. Federico BELLA – Politecnico di TORINO
Partern-Unità di ricerca: Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale-Università degli Studi di PADOVA, Università degli Studi di MESSINA
Bando: PRIN 2022 - Decreto Direttoriale n. 104 del 02-02-2022
Durata: 28/09/2023 – 27/09/2025 (24 mesi)
Budget totale progetto: € 288.468,00

Abstract del progetto

This project focuses on the development of a gas/liquid/solid three-phase interface (TPI) that endows electrodes with enhanced performance for target electrochemical reactions involving gases, due to its ability to mediate local interfacial environments and inhibit side reactions. Such a TPI concept is starting to be considered by the scientific community due to its promising potentialities in several strategic research fields, e.g. electrocatalyzed reduction of CO2, O2 and N2, fuel cells, sensors for liquid and gas substrates, anti-corrosion systems, etc.

The main goal is to tailor the TPI within a double hydrophilic-hydrophobic reaction zone, bearing a controlled grade of hydrophilicity at the microscale. The achievement of the co-existence of hydrophilic-hydrophobic conditions within the electrocatalyst/electrode will permit a compromise between efficient gas transport to the electrocatalyst and good contact of the electrocatalyst with the electrolyte (i.e., to provide the needed protons for the reduction reaction).

HYDREAM activity will explore these key experimental points:

• Design of heterogeneous electrocatalysts able to show hydrophobic-hydrophilic conditions in the reaction zone.

• Formulation of non-aqueous liquid electrolytes showing optimal electrode wettability, reactant solubility and mass transport.

• Advanced physico-chemical characterization to assess specific materials features and electrochemical reaction aspects at the nanoscale.

• Exploitation of TPI concept in a highly significant case study, i.e. the electrochemical N2 reduction reaction (E-NRR) to NH3 under mild conditions.

The E-NRR represents the Holy Grail in the current industrial chemistry scenario, since it would permit decentralizing NH3 production in a process fed by air, water and renewable energy. The E-NRR is thus a hot research topic, but it is accompanied by a wide list of experimental operative hurdles, concerning the preparation/formulation of electrocatalysts and electrolytes, the engineering of electrochemical reactors and interfaces, and the overall process analysis in terms of costs and environmental impact. This project will show how the TPI concept can be a precious tool in this scenario.

HYDREAM consortium joins 3 research units (RUs), i.e. POLITO (leader), UNIPD and UNIME. The project is intended to start at TRL-1 and reach TRL-3 in 24 months, and its targets are in sound consonance with the SUNERGY initiative of the European Commission, well aligned with the Green Deal objectives. Great attention will be also devoted to the training of young researchers and to the creation of an Italian interdisciplinary pool of young scientists able to place soon at the forefront of this emerging topic within the international scenario.