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A New Strategy for Early Evaluations of CO2 Utilization Technologies
- A three-step evaluation procedure based on technology readiness levels helps find the most efficient technology before allocating R&D manpower and investments in CO2 utilization technologies. - Researchers presented a unified framework for early-stage evaluations of a variety of emerging CO2 utilization (CU) technologies. The three-step procedure allows a large number of potential CU technologies to be screened in order to identify the most promising ones, including those at low level of technical maturity, before allocating R&D manpower and investments. When evaluating new technology, various aspects of the new technology should be considered. Its feasibility, efficiency, economic competitiveness, and environmental friendliness are crucial, and its level of technical maturity is also an important component for further consideration. However, most technology evaluation procedures are data-driven, and the amount of reliable data in the early stages of technology development has been often limited. A research team led by Professor Jay Hyung Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST proposed a new procedure for evaluating the early development stages of emerging CU technologies which are applicable at various technology readiness levels (TRLs). The procedure obtains performance indicators via primary data preparation, secondary data calculation, and performance indicator calculation, and the lead author of the study Dr. Kosan Roh and his colleagues presented a number of databases, methods, and computer-aided tools that can effectively facilitate the procedure. The research team demonstrated the procedure through four case studies involving novel CU technologies of different types and at various TRLs. They confirmed the electrochemical CO2 reduction for the production of ten chemicals, the co-electrolysis of CO2 and water for ethylene production, the direct oxidation of CO2 -based methanol for oxymethylene dimethyl production, and the microalgal biomass co-firing for power generation. The expected range of the performance indicators for low TRL technologies is broader than that for high TRL technologies, however, it is not the case for high TRL technologies as they are already at an optimized state. The research team believes that low TRL technologies will be significantly improved through future R&D until they are commercialized. “We plan to develop a systematic approach for such a comparison to help avoid misguided decision-making,” Professor Lee explained. Professor Lee added, “This procedure allows us to conduct a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of new technology. On top of that, it helps make efficient and reliable assessment possible.” The research team collaborated with Professor Alexander Mitsos, Professor André Bardow, and Professor Matthias Wessling at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. Their findings were reported in Green Chemistry on May 21. This work was supported by the Korea Carbon Capture and Sequestration R&D Center (KCRC). Publications: Roh, K., et al. (2020) ‘Early-stage evaluation of emerging CO2 utilization technologies at low technology readiness levels’ Green Chemistry. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1039/c9gc04440j Profile: Jay Hyung Lee, Ph.D. Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://lense.kaist.ac.kr/ Laboratory for Energy System Engineering (LENSE) Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering KAIST https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
A New Strategy for the Optimal Electroreduction of CO2 to High-Value Products
-Researchers suggest that modulation of local CO2 concentration improves the selectivity, conversion rate, and electrode stability, and shed a new light on the electrochemical CO2 reduction technology for controlling emissions at a low cost.- A KAIST research team presented three novel approaches for modulating local carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in gas-diffusion electrode (GDE)-based flow electrolyzers. Their study also empirically demonstrated that providing a moderate local CO2 concentration is effective in promoting Carbon–Carbon (C–C) coupling reactions toward the production of multi-carbon molecules. This work, featured in the May 20th issue of Joule, serves as a rational guide to tune CO2 mass transport for the optimal production of valuable multi-carbon products. Amid global efforts to reduce and recycle anthropogenic CO2 emissions, CO2 electrolysis holds great promise for converting CO2 into useful chemicals that were traditionally derived from fossil fuels. Many researches have been attempting to improve the selectivity of CO2 for commercially and industrially high-value multi-carbon products such as ethylene, ethanol, and 1-propanol, due to their high energy density and large market size. In order to achieve the highly-selective conversion of CO2 into valuable multi-carbon products, past studies have focused on the design of catalysts and the tuning of local environment related to pH, cations, and molecular additives. Conventional CO2 electrolytic systems relied heavily on an alkaline electrolyte that is often consumed in large quantities when reacting with CO2, and thus led to an increase in the operational costs. Moreover, the life span of a catalyst electrode was short, due to its inherent chemical reactivity. In their recent study, a group of KAIST researchers led by Professor Jihun Oh from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering reported that the local CO2 concentration has been an overlooked factor that largely affects the selectivity toward multi-carbon products. Professor Oh and his researchers Dr. Ying Chuan Tan, Hakhyeon Song, and Kelvin Berm Lee proposed that there is an intimate relation between local CO2 and multi-carbon product selectivity during electrochemical CO2 reduction reactions. The team employed the mass-transport modeling of a GDE-based flow electrolyzer that utilizes copper oxide (Cu2O) nanoparticles as model catalysts. They then identified and applied three approaches to modulate the local CO2 concentration within a GDE-based electrolytic system, including 1) controlling the catalyst layer structure, 2) CO2 feed concentration, and 3) feed flow rate. Contrary to common intuition, the study showed that providing a maximum CO2 transport leads to suboptimal multi-carbon product faradaic efficiency. Instead, by restricting and providing a moderate local CO2 concentration, C–C coupling can be significantly enhanced. The researchers demonstrated experimentally that the selectivity rate increased from 25.4% to 61.9%, and from 5.9% to 22.6% for the CO2 conversion rate. When a cheap milder near-neutral electrolyte was used, the stability of the CO2 electrolytic system improved to a great extent, allowing over 10 hours of steady selective production of multi-carbon products. Dr. Tan, the lead author of the paper, said, “Our research clearly revealed that the optimization of the local CO2 concentration is the key to maximizing the efficiency of converting CO2 into high-value multi-carbon products.” Professor Oh added, “This finding is expected to deliver new insights to the research community that variables affecting local CO2 concentration are also influential factors in the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction performance. My colleagues and I hope that our study becomes a cornerstone for related technologies and their industrial applications.” This work was supported by the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) Creative Materials Discovery Program. Publication: Tan, Y. C et al. (2020) ‘Modulating Local CO2 Concentration as a General Strategy for Enhancing C−C Coupling in CO2 Electroreduction’, Joule, Vol. 4, Issue 5, pp. 1104-1120. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joule.2020.03.013 Profile: Jihun Oh, PhD Associate Professor email@example.com http://les.kaist.ac.kr/ Laboratory for Energy and Sustainability (LE&S) Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Republic of Korea Profile: Ying Chuan Tan, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org LE&S, MSE, KAIST Profile: Hakhyeon Song, PhD Candidate email@example.com LE&S, MSE, KAIST Profile: Kelvin Berm Lee, M.S. Candidate firstname.lastname@example.org LE&S, MSE, KAIST (END)
3D Hierarchically Porous Nanostructured Catalyst Helps Efficiently Reduce CO2
- This new catalyst will bring CO2 one step closer to serving as a sustainable energy source. - KAIST researchers developed a three-dimensional (3D) hierarchically porous nanostructured catalyst with carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO) conversion rate up to 3.96 times higher than that of conventional nanoporous gold catalysts. This new catalyst helps overcome the existing limitations of the mass transport that has been a major cause of decreases in the CO2 conversion rate, holding a strong promise for the large-scale and cost-effective electrochemical conversion of CO2 into useful chemicals. As CO2 emissions increase and fossil fuels deplete globally, reducing and converting CO2 to clean energy electrochemically has attracted a great deal of attention as a promising technology. Especially due to the fact that the CO2 reduction reaction occurs competitively with hydrogen evolution reactions (HER) at similar redox potentials, the development of an efficient electrocatalyst for selective and robust CO2 reduction reactions has remained a key technological issue. Gold (Au) is one of the most commonly used catalysts in CO2 reduction reactions, but the high cost and scarcity of Au pose obstacles for mass commercial applications. The development of nanostructures has been extensively studied as a potential approach to improving the selectivity for target products and maximizing the number of active stable sites, thus enhancing the energy efficiency. However, the nanopores of the previously reported complex nanostructures were easily blocked by gaseous CO bubbles during aqueous reactions. The CO bubbles hindered mass transport of the reactants through the electrolyte, resulting in low CO2 conversion rates. In the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) on March 4, a research group at KAIST led by Professor Seokwoo Jeon and Professor Jihun Oh from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering designed a 3D hierarchically porous Au nanostructure with two different sizes of macropores and nanopores. The team used proximity-field nanopatterning (PnP) and electroplating techniques that are effective for fabricating the 3D well-ordered nanostructures. The proposed nanostructure, comprised of interconnected macroporous channels 200 to 300 nanometers (nm) wide and 10 nm nanopores, induces efficient mass transport through the interconnected macroporous channels as well as high selectivity by producing highly active stable sites from numerous nanopores. As a result, its electrodes show a high CO selectivity of 85.8% at a low overpotential of 0.264 V and efficient mass activity that is up to 3.96 times higher than that of de-alloyed nanoporous Au electrodes. “These results are expected to solve the problem of mass transfer in the field of similar electrochemical reactions and can be applied to a wide range of green energy applications for the efficient utilization of electrocatalysts,” said the researchers. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea. Image credit: Professor Seokwoo Jeon and Professor Jihun Oh, KAIST Image usage restrictions: News organizations may use or redistribute this image, with proper attribution, as part of news coverage of this paper only. Publication: Hyun et al. (2020) Hierarchically porous Au nanostructures with interconnected channels for efficient mass transport in electrocatalytic CO2 reduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS). Available online at https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1918837117 Profile: Seokwoo Jeon, PhD Professor email@example.com http://fdml.kaist.ac.kr Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)Daejeon, Republic of Korea Profile: Jihun Oh, PhD Associate Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://les.kaist.ac.kr Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Department of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability (EEWS) KAIST Profile: Gayea Hyun PhD Candidate email@example.com http://fdml.kaist.ac.kr Flexible Devices and Metamaterials Laboratory (FDML) Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) KAIST Profile: Jun Tae Song, PhD Assistant Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.cstf.kyushu-u.ac.jp/~ishihara-lab/ Department of Applied Chemistry https://www.kyushu-u.ac.jp Kyushu UniversityFukuoka, Japan (END)
Collaboration with Korea Institute of Energy Research
KAIST and the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) agreed on September 4th to further collaboration on energy research such as the development of nano-based hybrid solar cells, bio-fuels, artificial photosynthesis, and carbon dioxide reduction. The two institutions will select 11 research projects to focus on their cooperation. President Steve Kang (in the right) stood with Jooho Whang, the president of KIER (in the left), holding the signed memorandum of understanding.
Commercialization of Carbon Capture and Storage Technology Speeds up
KAIST research team successfully developed the ideal method for carbon dioxide transportation, which is crucial in the capturing and underground storage of carbon dioxide technology. Professor Jang Dae Joon of the department of Ocean Systems Engineering developed a carbon dioxide transportation that minimizes evaporative gases. The new technology is the final piece of the three part carbon capture storage which involves capture, transportation, and storage of carbon dioxide. The completion of the three part technology will allow for commercialization in the near future. Carbon Capture and Storage technology is regarded as the technology that will reduce carbon dioxide levels. It captures the carbon dioxide emitted from power plants and factories and storing them permanently in empty oil fields underground. If the post Kyoto Protocol was to be implemented from 2013, Korea will not be able to shirk from the need to reduce carbon emissions. Therefore the Korean government set out to reduce 32 million tons of carbon dioxide (10% of predicted carbon reduction) until 2030. In response to the government’s efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Korean research teams like KAIST have responded. Professor Jang’s team succeeded in developing the core technology for underground storage in the 2009 ‘Carbon dioxide Transport and Injection Terminal Project’. And as the final piece of the puzzle the team developed an optimization solution that addressed the evaporating gases emitted from carbon dioxide during transportation. Professor Jang’s team focused on the required low temperature and high pressure conditions in liquid carbon dioxide transport. The problem lies in the temperature gradient which can cause the transport canister to explode. The solution developed by the team is to evaporate carbon dioxide in a pressurized contained which is then re-liquidated. External variables like price of oil, carbon taxation, etc. have been considered and the process was optimized accordingly. The result of Professor Jang’s team’s solution to Carbon Capture and Storage was stored in the online edition of International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control.
Best Academic Award to Prof. Huen Lee
Professor Huen Lee, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, received the Best Prize of KAIST Academic Awards at the 36th anniversary ceremony of KAIST. Professor Lee has published 43 international papers and 12 domestic papers for the past five years and achieved world’s distinguished academic performances such as the development of hydrogen storage technologies, the discovery of the principle on carbon dioxide-methane hydrate swapping, etc. Professor Lee published his paper on methane hydrate at Science in 2003, and Nature introduced his paper on hydrate storage technologies as ‘highlight research’ in 2005, commenting his research as a landmark performance to pave ways for the development of future hydrogen energy. His discovery on ‘the principle of carbon dioxide-methane hydrate swapping’, published by PNAS in 2006, also gained huge attraction across the world as one of the promising technologies that can solve energy problem and global warming crisis simultaneously. Meanwhile, the rest of the awardees of 2007 are as follows: - Academic Award: Professor Jongkyeong Chung, Dep. of Biological SciencesAssociate professor Changok Lee, Dep. of MathematicsAssociate professor Sangkyu Kim, Dep. of ChemistryProfessor Dae-gab Gweon, Dep. of Mechanical Engineering - Creative Lecture Award: Associate professor Jaehung Han, Dep. of Aerospace Engineering - Excellent Lecture Award: Assistant profess Bong Gwan Jun, School of Humanities & Social Science Professor Joonho Choe, Dep. of Biological Sciences Professor Changwon Kang, Dep. of Biological Sciences Professor Seunghyup Yoo, Div. of Electrical Engineering Associate professor Otfried Cheong, Div. of Computer Science Professor Hoe Kyung Lee, Graduate School of Finance - Contribution Award: Professor Sung Chul Shin, Dep. of Physics Professor Bowon Kim, Graduate School of Culture Technology Professor Jisoo Kim, Graduate School of Finance - International Cooperation Best Award: Professor Hyung Suck Cho, Dep. of Mechanical Engineering - International Cooperation Award: Professor Kunpyo Lee, Dep. of Industrial Design Professor Soon Hyung Hong, Dep. of Materials Science & Engineering Professor Sungjoo Park, Graduate School of Culture Technology
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