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Spectroscopic insights into the electrochemical mechanism of rechargeable calcium/sulfur batteries
Antonio Scafuri, Romain Berthelot, Klemen Pirnat, Alen Vižintin, Jan Bitenc, Giuliana Aquilanti, Dominique Foix, Rémi Dedryvère, Iztok Arčon, Robert Dominko, Lorenzo Stievano, 13, original scientific article

Abstract: Calcium batteries represent a promising alternative to lithium metal systems. The combination of the low redox potential and low cost and the energy-dense calcium anode (2073 mAh/cm3, similar to 2044 mAh/cm3 for Li) with appropriate low-cost cathode materials such as sulfur could produce a game-changing technology in several fields of applications. In this work, we present the reversible activity of a proof-of-concept Ca/S battery at room temperature, characterized by a surprising medium-term cycling stability with low polarization, promoted by the use of a simple positive electrode made of sulfur supported on an activated carbon cloth scaffold, and a state-of-the-art fluorinated alkoxyborate-based electrolyte. Insights into the electrochemical mechanism governing the chemistry of the Ca/S system were obtained for the first time by combining X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopy. The mechanism implies the formation of different types of soluble polysulfide species during both charge and discharge at room temperature, and the formation of solid CaS at the end of discharge. The reversible electrochemical activity is proven by the reformation of elemental sulfur at the end of the following charge. These promising results open the way to the comprehension of emerging Ca/S systems, which may represent a valid alternative to Mg/S and Li/S batteries.
Keywords: Calcium/Sulfur Batteries EXAFS, XANES
Published in RUNG: 17.10.2020; Views: 3013; Downloads: 0
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Arabidopsis halleri shows hyperbioindicator behaviour for Pb and leaf Pb accumulation spatially separated from Zn
Stephan Höreth, Paula Pongrac, Marta Debeljak, Katarina Vogel-Mikuš, Matic Pečovnik, Primož Vavpetič, Iztok Arčon, original scientific article

Abstract: Lead (Pb) ranks among the most problematic environmental pollutants. Background contamination of soils is nearly ubiquitous, yet plant Pb accumulation is barely understood. In a survey covering 165 European populations of the metallophyte Arabidopsis halleri, several field samples had indicated Pb hyperaccumulation, offering a chance to dissect plant Pb accumulation. Accumulation of Pb was analysed in A. halleri individuals from contrasting habitats under controlled conditions to rule out aerial deposition as a source of apparent Pb accumulation. Several elemental imaging techniques were employed to study the spatial distribution and ligand environment of Pb. Regardless of genetic background, A. halleri individuals showed higher shoot Pb accumulation than A. thaliana. However, dose–response curves revealed indicator rather than hyperaccumulator behaviour. Xylem sap data and elemental imaging unequivocally demonstrated the in planta mobility of Pb. Highest Pb concentrations were found in epidermal and vascular tissues. Distribution of Pb was distinct from that of the hyperaccumulated metal zinc. Most Pb was bound by oxygen ligands in bidentate coordination. A. halleri accumulates Pb whenever soil conditions render Pb phytoavailable. Considerable Pb accumulation under such circumstances, even in leaves of A. thaliana, strongly suggests that Pb can enter food webs and may pose a food safety risk.
Keywords: Pb accumulation, XANES, EXAFS, Arabidopsis halleri
Published in RUNG: 16.01.2020; Views: 3151; Downloads: 0
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New Insights into Manganese Local Environment in MnS-1Nanocrystals
Alenka Ristić, Matjaž Mazaj, Iztok Arčon, Nina Daneu, Nataša Zabukovec Logar, Roger Glaser, Nataša Novak Tušar, 2019, original scientific article

Abstract: Manganese plays an important role in redox catalysis using zeolites as inorganic support materials, but the formation of the preferred redox manganese species (framework or extraframework) is still not well understood. Herein, the influence of the amount of manganese together with conventional and microwave-assisted hydrothermal synthesis paths on the formation of manganese species within the zeolite silicalite-1 (S-1) with MFI structure was investigated. It was found out that both synthesis procedures led to the formation of framework and extraframework manganese species, but in different molar ratios. However, the conventional synthesis procedure with all Mn/Si molar ratios generates more framework Mn in comparison to the microwave procedure. Additionally, the diminution of the zeolite crystals to nanoscale from 100 to 200 nm was achieved via the conventional procedure for the first time. UV–vis, Raman, and X-ray absorption spectroscopic analyses revealed different local environments of manganese: Mn3+ incorporated into the silicalite-1 framework as “framework manganese” and Mn2+/3+ present as “extraframework manganese” (Mn2O3, Mn3O4). TEM reveals the presence of Mn3O4 nanorods. Both framework manganese and extraframework manganese exhibit good catalytic activity for styrene epoxidation. Catalytic results suggest that, in oxidation reactions of hydrocarbons, framework manganese is more active at lower Mn contents (Mn/Si < 0.015), whereas extraframework manganese is more active at higher loadings (Mn/Si > 0.015).
Keywords: MnS-1 Nanocrystals, Mn XANES, EXAFS, zeolites, microwave-assisted hydrothermal synthesis
Published in RUNG: 06.05.2019; Views: 3485; Downloads: 0
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Alternative Recovery and Valorization of Metals from Exhausted Catalytic Converters in a New Smart Polymetallic Catalyst
Sebastiano Tieuli, Franco Baldi, Iztok Arčon, Katarina Vogel-Mikuš, Michele Gallo, Laura Sperni, Oreste Piccolo, Stefano Paganelli, 2019, original scientific article

Abstract: A new metals-polymeric composite, Metx-EPS (I), was prepared to be used as catalyst in water or in two-phase aqueous conditions. The metals source was an exhausted catalytic converter that was grinded and treated with an acidic solution at room temperature. After filtration, the solution was concentrated, neutralized and added to a broth of Klebsiella oxytoca DSM 29614 to produce (I) where metals are embedded in a peculiar polysaccharide structure (EPS). The composite was easily recovered from the fermentation broth and purified. The process protocol was verified many times and was shown to be reproducible satisfactorily. The % recovery of metals, originally present in the converter, was good as determined by atomic absorption. The morphology and the chemical state of main metals in (I) were investigated by X-ray absorption spectroscopy methods (XANES and EXAFS). No metallic alloy seems to be evident. The catalytic activity and a possible synergic effect due to the presence of the different metals was valuated in the hydrogenation of some substrates, valuable precursors for theproduction of fine chemicals.
Keywords: Biogenerated polymetallic exopolysaccharide, biphasic catalysis, hydrogenation, metals-polymeric composite, new catalyst from metallic wastes, EXAFS, XANES
Published in RUNG: 06.05.2019; Views: 3341; Downloads: 0
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Synthesis of a Cu/ZnO Nanocomposite by Electroless Plating for the Catalytic Conversion of CO2 to Methanol
Maja Pori, Iztok Arčon, Damjan Lašič Jurković, Marjan Marinšek, Goran Dražić, Blaž Likozar, Zorica Crnjak Orel, 2019, original scientific article

Abstract: The process of methanol synthesis based on the hydrogenation of CO2 was investigated over binary Cu/ZnO catalyst materials, prepared by applying a novel electroless plating fabrication method. The activity of the produced catalytic samples was determined at temperature range between 200 and 300 °C and the feedstock conversion data were supplemented with a detailed microstructure analysis using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) and Cu and Zn K-edge, X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) measurements and extended X-ray absorption fine-structure (EXAFS) measurements. It was confirmed that the disorder in the Cu crystallites created unique geometrical situations, which acted as the additional reactive centres for the adsorption of the reactant molecule species. Copper and zinc structural synergy (spill-over) was also demonstrated as being crucial for the carbon dioxide’s activation. EXAFS and XANES results provide strong evidence for surface alloying between copper and zinc and thus the present results demonstrate new approach applicable for explaining metal–support interactions.
Keywords: EXAFS, CuZn alloy, Spillover mechanism, CO2 valorization, Electroless deposition method, Heterogeneous catalysis
Published in RUNG: 12.04.2019; Views: 3705; Downloads: 0
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Unraveling the arrangement of Al and Fe within the framework explains the magnetism of mixed-metal MIL-100(Al,Fe)
Gregor Mali, Matjaž Mazaj, Iztok Arčon, Darko Hanžel, Denis Arčon, Zvonko Jagličić, 2019, original scientific article

Abstract: Properties of mixed-metal MOFs depend on the distribution of different metals within their frameworks. Determination of this distribution is often very challenging. Using an example of aluminum- and iron-containing MIL-100, we demonstrate that 27Al NMR spectroscopy, when combined with first-principles calculations and magnetic, X-band electron paramagnetic resonance, Fe K-edge extended X-ray absorption fine structure, and Mössbauer measurements, enables one to accurately determine the arrangement of Al and Fe within the metal trimers, which are the basic building units of MIL-100. In this particular material, the incorporation of Fe and Al on the framework metal sites is random. Crucial for deciphering the arrangement is detecting NMR signals, shifted because of the strong hyperfine interaction between the 27Al nuclei and the unpaired electronic spins of Fe3+ ions, assigning the shifted signals aided by first-principles calculations of hyperfine couplings, and quantitatively evaluating the NMR intensities and the measured effective magnetic moment.
Keywords: Fe EXAFS, XANES, MIL100, MOF, magnetizem
Published in RUNG: 26.03.2019; Views: 3340; Downloads: 0
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Correlations between photocatalytic activity and chemical structure of Cu-modified TiO2-SiO2 nanoparticle composites
T. Čižmar, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: The objective of this dissertation was to examine how copper modification can improve the photocatalytic activity of TiO2-SiO2 and to explain the correlation between Cu concentration and chemical state of Cu cations in the TiO2-SiO2 matrix, as well as the photocatalytic activity under the UV/solar irradiation. The Cu-modified TiO2-SiO2 photocatalysts were prepared by a low temperature sol-gel method based on organic copper, silicon and titanium precursors with varied Cu concentrations (from 0.05 to 3 mol%). The sol-gels were dried at 150 °C to obtain the photocatalysts in the powder form. To test thermal stability, additional set of photocatalysts was obtained by calcinating dried samples in air at 500 °C for 1 h. The photocatalytic activity was determined by a fluorescence-based method of terephthalic acid decomposition. Up to three times increase in photocatalytic activity of air-dried samples is obtained when TiO2-SiO2 matrix is modified with Cu in a narrow concentration range from 0.05 to 0.1 mol%. At higher Cu loadings the photocatalytic activity of Cu-modified photocatalyst is smaller than in the unmodified reference TiO2-SiO2 photocatalyst. Calcined samples showed significantly reduced photocatalytic activity compared to air-dried samples. XRD analysis showed that all Cu-modified TiO2-SiO2 nanocomposites with different Cu concentrations have the same crystalline structure as unmodified TiO2-SiO2 nanocomposites (air-dried or calcined). The addition of Cu does not change the relative ratio between the anatase and brookite phase or unit cell parameters of the two TiO2 crystalline structures. TEM analysis showed that the addition of Cu does not change the morphology of TiO2-SiO2 catalyst dried at 150 °C. The Cu K-edge XANES and EXAFS analysis were used to determine valence state and local structure of Cu cations in Cu-modified TiO2-SiO2 photocatalyst. The results elucidate the mechanism responsible for the improved or hindered photocatalytic activity. In the air-dried samples with low Cu content, which exhibit largest activity, Cu-O-Ti connections are formed, suggesting that the activity enhancement is due to Cu(II) cations attachment on the surface of the photocatalytically active TiO2 nanoparticles, so Cu(II) cations may act as free electron traps, reducing the intensity of recombination between electrons and holes at the TiO2 photocatalyst’s surface. At higher Cu loadings no additional Cu-O-Ti connections are formed, instead only Cu-O-Cu connections are established, indicating the formation of amorphous or nanocrystalline Cu(II) oxide, which hinders the photocatalytic activity of TiO2. Calcination of Cu-modified TiO2-SiO2 photocatalysts at 500 °C induces significant structural changes: Cu-O-Ti connections are lost, Cu partially incorporates into the SiO2 matrix and amorphous copper oxides, which again reduce the photocatalytic activity of the material, are formed.
Keywords: titanium dioxide, Cu-modified TiO2-SiO2 photocatalyst, photocatalytic activity, Cu K-edge XANES, EXAFS.
Published in RUNG: 17.12.2018; Views: 4774; Downloads: 147
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In-situ XAS analysis of nanoshaped CuO/CeO2 catalysts used for N2O decomposition
Iztok Arčon, Maxim Zabilsky, Petar Djinović, Albin Pintar, 2018, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: The goal of this research is to establish the working state and correlations between atomic structure and catalytic activity of nanoshaped CuO/CeO2 catalysts used in N2O decomposition reaction. The catalysts contained CuO nanoclusters dispersed over different CeO2 morphologies: nano-rods and nano-cubes. N2O is a side product of nitric and adipic acid production and a very potent greenhouse gas that is formed in amounts estimated at about 400 Mt/a of CO2 equivalent. Consequently, the development of robust, active and selective catalysts for N2O decomposition is of a great environmental and economical interest. CeO2-based materials promoted by CuO represent a new class of catalysts that exhibit considerable activity in N2O decomposition reaction between 300 and 500 °C [1-3], and are significantly cheaper and more efficient than Pt, Pd or Rh based catalysts. In order to maximize the efficiency of the catalyst, the active site in this reaction needs to be identified and the mechanism clarified. In-situ Cu K-edge and Ce L3-edge XANES and EXAFS analysis was done on a set of CuO/CeO2 catalysts with different ceria morphology (nano-cubes, nano-rods) and Cu loadings between 2 to 8 wt. %, during N2O decomposition reaction, under controlled reaction conditions at 400 °C. The XAS spectra were measured in-situ, in a tubular reactor, filled with protective He atmosphere at 1 bar, first at RT, then during heating, and at final temperature of 400 °C, during catalytic reaction, when the catalyst was exposed to a small amount (0.2 vol%) of N2O mixed with He. The Cu K-edge and Ce L3-edge XANES and EXAFS analysis reveals changes in valence and local structure of Cu and Ce in the CuO/CeO2 catalysts. In the initial state (in He at RT), copper is present in the form of CuO nanoparticles attached to the CeO2 surface. After heating in He to 400 °C, partial (10%) reduction of Ce [Ce(IV)→Ce(III)] is detected, significant part of Cu(II) is reduced to Cu(I) and Cu(0) species, and direct Cu-Cu bonds are formed. During catalytic N2O decomposition at 400°C, all Ce(III) is oxidized back to Ce(VI), and a major part of Cu is oxidized back to Cu(II), with about 5% of Cu(I) remaining in equilibrium state. Observed structural and valence changes of copper strongly depend on its loading and CeO2 morphology. With systematic In-situ XAS analysis of different nanoshaped CuO/CeO2 catalysts, we identified the structural characteristics and changes of Cu and Ce phases during catalytic N2O decomposition reaction, which could lead to identification of the active catalytic site during the reaction and further improve the performance of these promising catalytic materials.
Keywords: EXAFS, CuO/CeO2 catalyst, N2O decomposition
Published in RUNG: 12.09.2018; Views: 3876; Downloads: 0
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XAS studies of Sn modified TiO2 coatings
Ksenija Maver, Iztok Arčon, Urška Lavrenčič Štangar, 2018, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: Coatings based on TiO2 are extensively investigated material for the preparation of surfaces which are referred as self-cleaning. Under solar illumination these coatings catalyze pollutants degradation and enhance their removal from the surface due to photoinduced superhydrophilicity [1]. There are two main drawbacks of using pure TiO2 (anatase) as a photocatalyst; i) its band gap lies in the UVA region so it can exploit only a part of the sunlight spectrum, and ii) it has a high degree of recombination between photo generated electrons and holes on the surface. There are various strategies to improve the photocatalytic efficiency of TiO2, one of them is the modification with transition metals. Based on our previous experiences with sol-gel synthesis of low-temperature TiO2 thin films [2], we prepared a series of Sn modified TiO2 photocatalysts. As a starting material only organic (Ti and Sn alkoxide) precursors were used. The loadings of Sn cations were varied in the range of 0.05 to 20 mol.%. The coatings, deposited on glass substrates by dip-coating technique, were dried at 150 oC. In addition, another set of photocatalyst coatings was prepared by further calcination at 500 °C in air. The comparison of photocatalytic activities of Sn modified TiO2 to unmodified TiO2 showed that Sn loadings in the range of 1-10 mol.% improved photocatalytic activity up to 8 times. At lower loadings of Sn, the photocatalytic activity was improved only by 30 %. After the coatings are calcined, their photocatalytic activity was significantly reduced. The objective of the research was to examine the mechanism responsible for photocatalytic properties of Sn modified TiO2 and to to clarify the role of Sn cations in the TiO2 photocatalytic process. For this purpose, Sn and Ti K-edge XANES and EXAFS analysis was used to precisely determine the local structure and the site of incorporation of Sn cations on titania nanoparticles in the coatings. We examined the hypothesis that the solid-solid interface was a crucial structural feature that facilitates charge separation and enhances photocatalytic efficiency of titania.
Keywords: Sn, EXAFS, TiO2 fotokatalizator
Published in RUNG: 12.09.2018; Views: 3551; Downloads: 0
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The effect of Zr loading on photocatalytic activity of Cu modified TiO [sub] 2
Olena Pliekhova, O. L. Pliekhov, Mattia Fanetti, Iztok Arčon, Nataša Novak Tušar, Urška Lavrenčič Štangar, 2018, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Keywords: Cu Zr modified TiO2, EXAFS, XANES
Published in RUNG: 12.09.2018; Views: 3529; Downloads: 0
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