Matt Peerlings

Matt Peerlings

PhD candidate

Employed since: December 2020
Room: 4th floor study area

Research: Understanding the degradation and increasing the lifetime of electrodes and membranes under harsh operating conditions

The electrochemical conversion of CO2 into value-added products using renewable electricity is a promising solution for both the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and the mitigation of electrical peak loads associated with intermittent renewable energy sources. The electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction can be catalysed by several different transition metals, each yielding different reaction products. Thus far, Cu is the only transition metal shown to facilitate C-C coupling and form C2+ products like hydrocarbons and alcohols in significant amounts. However, a wide range of products is formed. Therefore, much research has focused on improving the selectivity of Cu-based cathodes, as well as reducing the overpotential required to drive this reaction.1

A different problem is the stability of the electrodes, as their structure and hence their performance are strongly affected by the application of an electrical potential.2 This effect is more pronounced at higher current densities, which are required for industrial applications. Therefore, it is important to increase understanding on the degradation mechanisms of electrodes. This requires more knowledge on the changes in electrocatalyst morphology over time. Ex-situ characterization techniques are insufficient, because they do not image the electrodes under relevant reaction conditions.

The aim of this project, which is part of the RELEASE consortium, is to understand more about the degradation mechanisms of Cu-based electrodes for the CO2 reduction reaction under harsh operating conditions. This will be done using conventional structural and electrochemical characterization techniques, as well as advanced in-situ characterization techniques like XAS and TEM.3,4

  1. Nitopi, S. et al. Progress and perspectives of electrochemical CO2 reduction on copper in aqueous electrolyte. Chem. Rev. 119, 7610-7672 (2019).
  2. Han, K., Negene. P. & Jongh, P. Structure dependent product selectivity for CO2 electroreduction on ZnO derived catalysts. ChemCatChem 13, 1998-2004 (2021).
  3. Timoshenko, J. & Roldan Cuenya, B. In Situ / Operando electrocatalyst characterization by X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Chem. Rev. 121, 882-961 (2021).
  4. Aran-Ais, R.M. et al. Imaging electrochemically synthesized Cu2O cubes and their morphological evolution under conditions relevant to CO2 electroreduction. Nat. Commun. 11, 1-8 (2020).


2020 – present

PhD candidate in the group of prof. dr. Petra de Jongh and dr. Peter Ngene at Materials Chemistry and Catalysis

2018 – 2020

Master’s degree in Nanomaterials Science at Utrecht University.

Master thesis at the Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis group under supervision of prof. dr. Petra de Jongh, dr. Peter Ngene and Laura de Kort, titled “Effects of nanoconfinement on the ion conduction properties of Li-based electrolytes for all-solid-state batteries.”

Internship at BASF de Meern

2014 – 2018

Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Utrecht University.

Bachelor thesis at the Condensed Matter and Interfaces group under supervision of prof. dr. Andries Meijerink, titled: “Temperature Dependence of Quantum Dot Emission Linewidths”

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