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Fundamental and technological studies of the chemical and electrochemical use of ethanol for energy


The use of alcohols, especially ethanol, in fuel cells present great appeal in present days, since ethanol energy conversion in fuel cell can be more efficient than direct combustion and it can be obtained from the renewable biomass. Alternatively, ethanol can be reformed catalytically to produce hydrogen to be used in fuel cell as well. In both cases, catalytic materials are necessary to provide good conversion efficiency, since, generally, ethanol oxidation or reform gives rise to many by products such as aldehydes, acetic acid and others minor products. Therefore, a good catalyst for ethanol oxidation or reform must be able to carry out the full ethanol dehydrogenation, with consequent C-C bond dissociation. For direct oxidation the resulting adsorbed carbon monoxide also must be readily oxidized at low overpotentials. It is well know that the catalytic properties depend on the electronic structure of materials. The energy of adsorption of molecules and reaction intermediates is strongly dependent on the the d-band position and ont the density of d-states of the catalyst. In that case, the catalyst surface composition and the catalyst-substrate interaction are critical for the catalytic activity, once the electronic properties are strongly dependent on these parameters. In this project several type of materials and surface modifiers will be investigated both from the point of view of the electronic properties and of the catalytic activity for ethanol oxidation and reforming for wich spectroscopic techniques will be used. The group involved in this project has a large expertise both on fundamental and technological studies in eletrocatalysis for fuel cell applications. More recently some members of the group started to study also catalytic ferom of hydrocarbons, with special attention to the biomass components. (AU)

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