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Kristijan Lorber, 2023, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: Dry reforming of methane (DRM) is an attractive reaction for converting the two major greenhouse gases CH4 and CO2 into the product syngas. H2 and CO as synthesis gas are important chemical feedstocks for the further production of valuable products as well as for the production of long-chain hydrocarbons by the Fisher-Tropsch process. High operating temperatures due to the endothermic nature of the DRM process and the occurrence of several side reactions such as Reverse Water Gas Shift, Methane Cracking and Boudoard reaction make the DRM process unattractive for industrial application. For the catalytic application of DRM in thermal mode (thermal energy drives the reaction), different CeO2 morphologies, namely nanorods, nanocubes, and nanospheres, were synthesized by a hydrothermal method. The best catalyst for DRM was found to be 2 wt. % Ni loaded in CeO2 rods morphology (2Ni-R). Characterization techniques (XRD, N2-physisorption, TEM, in-situ XANES/EXAFS TPR and CO2 TPD) were used to investigate the structural and redox properties of the catalysts. The mechanism of CO2 activation on reduced Ni/CeO2-x during DRM was proposed using DFT calculations and in-situ DRIFTS measurements combined with mass spectrometry. The 2Ni-R catalyst, which performed best in thermal DRM reaction, was studied under photo-thermal conditions where it was stimulated by both visible light and thermal energy. The catalytic activity was observed even at low (140 °C) temperatures, and the obtained CH4 and CO2 conversion, as well as H2/CO ratio exceeded thermodynamic limitations. XRD, TEM, and H2-physisorption techniques were used for structural characterization, while in-situ UV-Vis measurements were performed to study the optical properties of the catalyst. By using suitable long-pass filters and with the help of theoretical calculations, we were able to distinguish two photo mechanisms which contribute to photocatalytic activity under photo-thermal mode of the DRM reaction. Shorter wavelengths (< 450 nm) supported the charge transfer and generation mechanism in reduced CeO2-x, while longer wavelengths (> 450 nm) promoted near-field enhancement. However, under full spectrum of visible light (400 - 800 nm), the charge transfer and generation mechanism was dominant and led to 2-3 times higher CH4 activation rates compared to near-field enhancement.
Keywords: DRM, CeO2 nanoshapes, reaction mechanism, photocatalysis
Published in RUNG: 22.09.2023; Views: 66; Downloads: 1
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Interface engineering of Ta[sub]3N[sub]5 thin film photoanode for highly efficient photoelectrochemical water splitting
Jie Fu, Zeyu Fan, Mamiko Nakabayashi, Huanxin Ju, Nadiia Pastukhova, Yequan Xiao, Chao Feng, Naoya Shibata, Kazunari Domen, Yanbo Li, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Interface engineering is a proven strategy to improve the efficiency of thin film semiconductor based solar energy conversion devices. Ta3N5 thin film photoanode is a promising candidate for photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. Yet, a concerted effort to engineer both the bottom and top interfaces of Ta3N5 thin film photoanode is still lacking. Here, we employ n-type In:GaN and p-type Mg:GaN to modify the bottom and top interfaces of Ta3N5 thin film photoanode, respectively. The obtained In:GaN/Ta3N5/Mg:GaN heterojunction photoanode shows enhanced bulk carrier separation capability and better injection efficiency at photo- anode/electrolyte interface, which lead to a record-high applied bias photon-to-current efficiency of 3.46% for Ta3N5-based photoanode. Furthermore, the roles of the In:GaN and Mg:GaN layers are distinguished through mechanistic studies. While the In:GaN layer con- tributes mainly to the enhanced bulk charge separation efficiency, the Mg:GaN layer improves the surface charge inject efficiency. This work demonstrates the crucial role of proper interface engineering for thin film-based photoanode in achieving efficient PEC water splitting.
Keywords: photocatalysis, renewable energy
Published in RUNG: 09.02.2022; Views: 1224; Downloads: 70
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SnO2-Containing Clinoptilolite as a Composite Photocatalyst for Dyes Removal fromWastewater under Solar Light
Andraž Šuligoj, Jelena Pavlovič, Iztok Arčon, Nevenka Rajić, Nataša Novak Tušar, 2020, original scientific article

Abstract: Due to their adsorbent, ion exchange and catalytic properties zeolites are suitable for a variety of applications. We report on the photocatalytic activity of a readily available and inexpensive natural zeolite clinoptilolite (Z) containing SnO2 (Sn-Z). The Sn-Z samples with 3–15 wt. % of Sn were prepared by using a precipitation–deposition method. Powder X-ray diffraction analysis showed that the zeolite structure was unaffected by the introduction of the Sn-phase. Diffuse reflectance UV/VIS spectra of the Sn-Z samples confirmed the presence of SnO2 and X-Ray absorption spectroscopy analyses suggested that the SnO2 particles mainly resided on the surface of the clinoptilolite, while ATR-FTIR analysis gave some clues that part of the SnO2 phase was incorporated in the pores of the zeolite. The presence of SnO2 in Sn-Z increased both adsorption capacity and photocatalytic performance which could be partially explained by higher surface area and partially with an increased negative potential of the surface. Adsorption and total degradation of methylene blue (MB) for the Sn-Z with the highest amount of Sn (15 wt.%) was about 30% and 45%, respectively, suggesting a synergetic effect between SnO2 and the clinoptilolite lattice. Reusability tests showed that these catalysts present a promising material for water purification.
Keywords: SnO2, zeolite, SnO2-clinoptilolite composite, photocatalysis, solar light, methylene blue removal, wastewater treatment
Published in RUNG: 25.02.2020; Views: 2502; Downloads: 130
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Olena Pliekhova, 2019, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: This work entitled «Zr/Cu-TiO2 catalysts for photocatalytic water treatment» tackles a problem of tons of dyes discharged everyday mainly from textile industries. This is a huge concern because of dyes persistence, toxicity and potential to the bioaccumulation in living organisms. Here, a small contribution to overall problem is presented. The research work consists of three main parts: Theoretical background, Experimental and Results and discussion. In the Theoretical background chapter the overall problem is identified and discussed. The main water treatment techniques are presented briefly with their advantages and drawbacks. Photocatalysis assisted with TiO2 is shown as an alternative additional technique with its own pros and cons. Further, a cursory overview of TiO2 modification techniques is made and advantages in using copper and zirconium oxides for TiO2 modification are presented. The reason and possible positive effect of using of two oxides simultaneously for TiO2 modification is indicated. Additionally, a positive impact of solar light for overall rate of dyes degradation assisted with TiO2 is discussed. Within the framework of photosensitization effect, the problem of using dyes for assessment of photocatalytic properties of materials under the visible light is touched on. Photothermal methods as possible beneficial techniques for this purpose are proposed. In the Experimental chapter, all experimental techniques used in current research work with the technical details specific for the research work are presented. There are methods of materials preparation, photocatalytic tests under different conditions and varying model pollutants, and physico-chemical characterization techniques. The Results and discussion chapter is divided by three subchapters. Each chapter is dedicated to one hypothesis, which was checked and confirmed or disproved. The first hypothesis is about beneficial loading of copper and zirconium oxides to TiO2. After numerous experiments held, it was concluded that the pair of copper and zirconium oxides is beneficial for simultaneous application on TiO2 surface to promote its performance. The second subchapter is about zirconium distribution and its impact on the activity of studied materials towards the antraquinone dye Reactive Blue 19. Different techniques such as XRD, TEM, EXAFS and many others were used in order to characterize the materials and to understand the details of the processes taking place. The existence of upper limit of copper oxide loading for its beneficial effect on TiO2 performance was demonstrated. It was observed that zirconium species loading leads to improvement in performance of materials with higher copper loading, which otherwise lowers activity of TiO2 – this is in case when copper only above its optimal level is present. It was concluded that zirconium oxide containing species occupy rutile surface sites in mixed phase TiO2 and this way beneficially influence the material performance towards the dye removal. The third subchapter is about the visible light TiO2 assisted dye degradation. It is well known that photosensitization mechanism of dye degradation appears under the visible and as a consequence under the solar light irradiation. This leads to the overall enhancement of dyes degradation, which is positive and may be used as a benefit for faster pollutant destruction. However, this fact leads to mishmash in the determination of real photocatalytic activity of materials towards the dye. It was hypothesized that the impact of photosensitization mechanism on the overall material performance against Reactive blue 19 dye (RB19) descends with the dye concentration lowering. Thermal lens spectrometry (TLS) which is sensitive to chemicals at low concentrations was used for hypothesis evaluation. To summarize the research work achievements, the conclusions of the thesis are given at the end.
Keywords: titanium dioxide, photocatalysis, zirconium/copper, surface modification, water treatment, dyes
Published in RUNG: 03.12.2019; Views: 4790; Downloads: 131
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Photoactive nanocomposite thin films on glass and thermosensitive substrates
Nives Vodišek, 2019, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: Photocatalysis is a well-known process for the last few decades; it is predominantly used for water and air purification, but also for self-cleaning and antibacterial surfaces. The photocatalytic process is one of the advanced oxidation processes, where semiconductors are mainly used as photocatalysts. The most known and used semiconductor is nanosized titania, which can non-selectively decompose organic matters. One of the side effects of nano TiO2 under UV irradiation is photoinduced hydrophilicity, which furthermore improves the self-cleaning effect. The main drawback of TiO2 is that for its activation UV light is needed, which represents only 5 percent of the solar spectrum. Consequently, actinic irradiance power is low and the response of photocatalyst is limited. Novel approaches are being introduced to improve TiO2 response to visible light such as doping, coupling, modification of surface morphology and others. The thesis consists of five principal chapters. The first chapter is focused on a short literature review and explanation of some basic terms and principles that are related to this thesis. The aim of the research was to prepare transparent photocatalytically active thin films on glass and thermosensitive substrates. Four thermosensitive substrates were used: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) foil, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) sheet and polyester (PES) fabric coated with a polyvinyl and acrylic coating, with (D1) or without (D2) an additional polyvinylidene fluoride topcoat. The synthesis of films was modified with the introduction of zirconium aiming at improving the photocatalytic activity of the TiO2 films, and the final films had a SiO2 phase present for increased mechanical robustness. The third chapter is dedicated to the experimental part of the thesis. The detailed process of synthesis is described. The sol-gel process was used to prepare initial Ti-Zr sols, colloidal aqueous solutions with TiO2 and ZrO2 nanoparticles derived from titanium and zirconium alkoxides. The four different Ti-Zr sols were prepared with 0, 5, 10 and 20 molar % of Zr according to Ti. The depositing solution was prepared by mixing Ti-Zr sol, SiO2 sol binder, 1-propanol and 2-propoxyethanol, and then thin films were deposited by dip-coating technique. After the deposition, samples did not require high-temperature calcination since the photocatalytic anatase phase was present already after drying the deposited layers. Coated glass slides were put into a furnace at 150 °C, while samples on thermosensitive substrates were just treated by a heat gun. Samples in powder and thin film form were characterized by UV-Vis, FTIR-ATR and laser beam deflection spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and thermal analysis. One of the main aspects of the photocatalyst is its activity. Photocatalytic activity of the thin films was determined, either quantitatively by the formation of fluorescent hydroxyterephthalic acid, one of the first degradation products of terephthalic acid deposit, or qualitatively by a visual-based method where degradation of resazurin ink was observed. Two additional methods were used on glass samples, electron paramagnetic resonance, and degradation of methyl stearate by observing the change in water contact angle under UVA irradiation. Mechanical stability of films on various substrates is an essential factor, describing how successful was immobilization of the photocatalytic materials on the substrate. It was determined by the pencil hardness test, i.e., Wolff-Wilborn method. In the fourth chapter, titled “Results and Discussion,” the most important part of the thesis is placed. Materials characterization and associated discussion of the results are divided into three major parts: i) powder samples characterization; ii) characterization of thin films on a glass substrate, and iii) characterization of films on thermosensitive substrates. In the conclusions, the main findings of the Ph.D. research work are summarized. One of our initial hypotheses was disapproved, thin films were not more active with a higher content of zirconium. However, they were more durable. All the obtained films were transparent and photoactive, despite the low-temperature synthesis procedure. Besides commonly used glass substrate, immobilization on thermosensitive substrates was also successful.
Keywords: glass substrate, immobilization, nanocomposite, nanomaterials, PES, photocatalysis, PMMA, PVC, self-cleaning surfaces, silica, plastic substrates, thin films, titania, zirconia
Published in RUNG: 14.10.2019; Views: 3311; Downloads: 178
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Self-cleaning and photoactive TiO2 – ZrO2 – SiO2 films on thermosensitive and glass substrates
Nives Vodišek, Urška Lavrenčič Štangar, 2017, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: Nanosized TiO2 is well-known for its photocatalytic property. From the combination of photocatalysis and photoinduced hydrophilicity properties, thin films of this material have also anti-fogging, self-cleaning and antimicrobial properties. There are numerous deposition techniques e.g. spin-coating, dip-coating, spraying, the most suitable one is chosen based on substrate or solution characteristics. Thin films are often required to be transparent for visible light, especially if we use them on transparent substrates, or they should not affect the color of the substrate. Radicals that are produced during photosensitizing process are able to destroy structure of a substrate and substrate can lose mechanical stability [1,2]. Some studies show that adding a SiO2 protective layer can prevent the damage of the substrate [3–5]. Ti-Zr containing sols were prepared with sol-gel process, where titanium(IV) isopropoxide, zirconium(IV) butoxide and ethanol were hydrolyzed with aqueous solution of perchloric acid. Solution was then refluxed for 48 hours. During that time crystallization and deaggregation took place and that resulted in a stable final solution [6]. To prepare suitable solution for production of durable films silica binder was added. On glass and plastic substrates, thin films were deposited with the dip-coating method and dried with a heat-gun. Thin films were characterized by measurements of photocatalytic activity with terephthalic acid as model organic pollutant subjected to oxidation via fluorescent degradation product, photoinduced superhydrophilicity phenomena, UV-Vis and ATR-FTIR spectroscopy, SEM images, as well as mechanical properties measurements. References [1] H. Schmidt, M. Naumann, T.S. Müller, M. Akarsu, Thin Solid Films (2006) 502, 132– 137. [2] W. A. Daoud, J.H. Xin, Y.H. Zhang, Surf. Sci. (2005) 599, 69–75. [3] Ž. Senić, S. Bauk, M. Vitorović-Todorović, N. Pajić, A. Samolov, D. Rajić, Sci. Tech. Rev. (2011) 61, 63–72. [4] T. Yuranova, R. Mosteo, J. Bandara, D. Laub, J. Kiwi, J. Mol. Catal. A: Chem. (2006) 244, 160–167. [5] T. Yuranova, D. Laub, J. Kiwi, Catal. Today (2007) 122, 109–117. [6] N. Vodišek, K. Ramanujachary, V. Brezová, U. Lavrenčič Štangar, Catal. Today (2017) 287, 142–147.
Keywords: Self-cleaning surface, photocatalysis, TiO2, ZrO2, SiO2, PVC, PMMA, thermosensitive substrates, glass
Published in RUNG: 05.03.2019; Views: 3067; Downloads: 0
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