Lighting the way: Enhanced dry reforming using light

Supervisory team: A/Prof Jason Scott, Dr Emma Lovell, Dr Jonathan Horlyck and Scientia Prof Rose Amal

Description: Dry reforming (or CO2) reforming is a process which converts the two largest greenhouse gasses (CO2 and methane) into a valuable product called synthesis gas. A catalyst is used to boost conversion and overcome the energy requirements of the reaction. Typical dry reforming catalysts are based on transition metals such as cobalt (Co) or nickel (Ni), which have limited activity and stability. The addition of plasmonic metals, which respond to light illumination by generating electrons or localised heat, is a potential pathway for improving the performance of catalysts towards thermal conversions such as dry reforming. The proposed study will investigate the addition of a range of plasmonic metals (eg. Au, Cu, Pd, Ag) on an Al2O3 support. The effect of the plasmonic metal inclusion on catalyst activity, stability and selectivity will be examined, with the impact of light irradiation on the temperature requirements of the reaction also evaluated.

The enhancement of dry reforming catalysis with the plasmonic effect is an understudied field of research. While the limitations of transition metals in dry reforming are well known, studies which investigate the addition of plasmonic metals to promote the reaction under light illumination have not been carried out. The proposed research project will examine whether the addition of plasmonic metals (Au, Cu, Ag, Pd) via flame spray pyrolysis can enhance catalyst performance towards the dry reforming reaction under light illumination.
The student undertaking this project will be working at the Particles and Catalysis Research Group, School of Chemical Engineering, under the guidance of Dr Emma Lovell, Dr Jonathan Horlyck, Dr JasonScott and Prof Rose Amal.

Suitable for: Chemical Engineers and Industrial Chemistry students. 

Level of difficulty: Very Challenging

For more information on this project please contact Jason Scott at jason.scott@unsw.edu.au