PhD opportunities

Metal aerogel synthesis, Ni, Cu, NiCo, NiFe for electrolysis

Thesis proposal

Area of expertiseEnergtique et gnie des procds
Doctoral SchoolSystems Engineering, Materials, Mechanics, Energy
SupervisorM. Christian BEAUGER
Research unitEnergy and Processes
Starting dateOctober 1st 2020
KeywordsAerogel,, catalysis, electrolysis
AbstractContext and challenges
The specific texture of aerogels makes them the materials of choice for catalysis. Controlling their morphology from the synthesis parameters makes it possible to access a varied library of materials and to adapt the porosity to the foreseen application. In the field of electrochemistry in acid medium (fuel cells, water electrolysis) they are generally used as Pt or Ir supports for example, in order to minimize the quantities used of these noble, expensive metals and whose availability could become limiting. Two other applications of interest could still benefit from the advantages of aerogels, alkaline electrolysis and CO2 electrolysis. In both cases the electrochemical reactions involve non-noble metals, Cu, Ni or Ni-Co, Ni-Fe. It is no longer a question here of developing catalyst supports but catalysts with mesoporous 3D textures.

Scientific objectives
The proposed work will consist in developing the synthesis of metallic aerogels for different metals, Ni, Cu and Ni-Fe or Ni-Co alloys. In each case, we will focus on the identification of the parameters and conditions which will make it possible to control the morphology of the synthesized materials (specific surface and pore sizes distribution in particular). This is indeed essential to facilitate the release of gas within a liquid in the case of alkaline water electrolysis or to guide the synthesis of hydrocarbons in the case of CO2 electrolysis. For the alloys considered, the accessible compositions and their activity for the targeted reactions will be determined.

The work will begin with a bibliographic study aimed at listing all the protocols available in the literature and identifying the synthesis-property relationships already updated. Based on the knowledge available in the laboratory and the results of the bibliographic study, it will then be a question of developing the synthesis protocols which will lead to the targeted materials. After physicochemical characterization (SEM-EDX, Nitrogen adsorption, XRD, XPS ...) the catalytic activity of the selected materials will be evaluated in liquid electrolyte (RDE, H-cell). The analysis of the products formed will then make it possible to obtain data on the texture-properties relationships and to orient the syntheses towards the most suitable morphologies.

Expected results
Development of synthesis protocols for metallic aerogels, Ni, Cu, Ni-Fe, Ni-Co
Physicochemical and electrochemical characterization of the synthesized catalysts
Establishment of synthesis parameters-texture-properties relationships
ProfileTypical profile for a thesis at MINES ParisTech: Engineer and / or Research Master - Good level of general and scientific knowledge. Good level of practice of French and English. Good analytical, synthesis, innovation and communication skills. Adaptability and creativity. Teaching skills. Motivation for research activity, in particular experimental. Coherent professional project.
Prerequisites (specific skills for this thesis): Good knowledge in chemistry, physicochemistry, electrochemistry.

To apply: send CV + a cover letter + 2 references to Christian Beauger
FundingConcours pour un contrat doctoral