Arthur Van Cleemput

Catalyzing research on biochar to obtain new surfaces (CARBONS)

Apparently, there is a broad gap between on the one hand research on the thermochemical conversion of biomass into functional carbonaceous materials, and on the other hand tailoring of solid surfaces through thin film deposition. CARBONS (catalyzing research on biochar to obtain new surfaces) aims to surface engineer biochars and other carbon materials by deposition of thin metallic films and nanoparticles for catalytic applications in renewable energy production. Therefore, two research groups (TCCB and DRAFT) engage in a close collaboration. Both teams will bring in their expertise on the studied materials i.e., carbon surfaces and metal nanoparticles/thin films, and will use together surface characterization tools to understand the formation of nanoparticles/thin film on carbon surfaces and their anchoring with these surfaces. The integrated approach is depicted in the figure below. Key in this project proposal is the characterization of the surfaces obtained in every step, mainly through X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), complemented with other techniques such as electron microscopy and FTIR spectroscopy. Both teams will benefit from the expertise of the other and the obtained information on the characterization to expand their knowledge in their respective fields. TCCB will expand their knowledge in understanding the connection between the biochar properties and the production process, whereas DRAFT will expand their knowledge in the interaction between deposited thin films/nanoparticles with the functionalized biochar surface, and the behavior of biochars in high vacuum deposition. My main role as researcher is to investigate (i) how biochar production temperatures affect their functionality, (ii) how this functionality affect metal deposition and (iii) how metal deposited chars perform as catalyst for e.g., methanation of hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide.

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