The R&D activities of the project Freecats are split into five workpackages :
WP 1 New materials and novel reactor concepts
To prepare nitrogen and boron-doped nanocarbons using an optimized and scalable procedure giving controllable nitrogen content presenting the following physical properties:
High surface reactivity with an homogeneous dispersion of the dopant on the material surface
Strong and stable interface with the macrostructured host matrix (SiC and C foam and cordierite monolith)
Efficient heat and electron transfer for the subsequence catalytic applications
More concrete, we will prepare N-CNT, P-CNT and B-CNT samples, both in bulk form and supported on macroscopic foam/monolith host structures for initial screening and ranking. The materials will be extensively characterized at the different stages of preparation (after synthesis, after purification, after functionalization, and also after catalytic tests). Specific attention will be given to the control of the dopant dispersion and localization and on the purification efficiency to remove the residual catalyst.
WP2 Hydrodynamics modelling
To develop a detailed process model describing reactions, heat and mass transfer, and hydrodynamics with the foam structure as a parameter.
To generate experimental data for model validation, specifically relating to heat transfer, mass transfer and foam structure.
More concrete, we will develop comprehensive process models for the three main case studies: oxidative dehydrogenation, fuel cell and ozonation as an example of advanced oxidation processes. The three case studies represent different scenarios, namely (i) a gas-solid reaction with high demand on heat transfer through the foam material, (ii) gas-vapour flow with potential for condensation inside the foam, and (iii) a gas-liquid-solid or liquid-solid reaction at close to ambient temperature. The requirements for optimal operation of the three different devices are very different. The common element is the need to connect the specific structure and materials of the foam with performance in mass and heat transfer. WP2 is split into several sub-tasks relating to specific aspects of model development.
WP3 Catalytic testing – Optimization
The main objective of this WP is to test the performance of the materials prepared in WP 1 in the following targeted catalytic reactions for the three cases:
Oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) for use in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), using N-CNT
Oxidative dehydrogenation of short chain alkanes (ODH) using P and B doped CNF.
Advanced oxidation processes (AOP) for water and wastewater treatment: catalytic ozonation of organic micropollutants (COZ) and catalytic wet air oxidation (CWAO) using N-CNT”
More concrete, The ORR tests and the cyclic voltammetry will mainly be performed at CNRS and NTNU. The catalysts will be compared with conventional platinum group metal-based catalysts and also with low-Pt containing catalysts developed in other projects at the consortium partners. The ODH reactions will be performed at available test facilities at NTNU, UP and CSIC. Also here the catalysts will be benchmarked against conventional Pt-based catalysts. The advanced oxidation processes (catalytic ozonation and wet air oxidation) will be performed by UP. The doped carbon catalysts will be tested and compared with conventional catalysts containing noble metals and rare-earth oxides (ceria). The catalytic performance is the ultimate test of the catalysts prepared in WP1. An integral part of the tests in all three tasks will be kinetic studies carefully designed to obtain a kinetic model. The experiments should provide information on the reaction mechanism, the rate determining steps and also relationship between surface composition, structure and catalytic performance.
WP4 Validation of materials and process in integrated micropilot plant
Scale-up the catalyst preparation
Validate performances expected from previous WPs, namely lab scale testing (WP3) coupled with hydrodynamic modelling (WP2)
Generate technical data requested for the benchmarking vs Pt based catalyst in WP5
More concrete, we will fully explore the different problems that could happen during the scale-up step for a dedicated reaction and also to correct some preliminary hypothesis developed for smaller scale reactor. This work will lead to technical data regarding catalyst scale-up, catalytic performances and durability, as needed for the Technical, Economic and Ecologic assessment in WP5. The reaction that will be exploited in such micropilot plant will be selected after the 18th month of the project.
WP5 Technical, Economic and Ecologic assessment for scale-up
To evaluate sustainability metrics for the developed new catalytic processes and benchmark against conventional catalytic technologies