In 2013, the research group Electrochemistry was founded within NIRAS. Whereas most conventional chemical reactions use high temperatures and pressure as an energy source, electrochemistry adds electrical energy through an electrode. This allows for a large range of new sustainable reactions.
The electrodes developed by VITO are a smart modification of classic electrodes. The new electrodes are gas porous, which means they can efficiently make gases and fluids react to each other in a reactor. The electrodes are coated with bioactive layers, which contain bacteria. They react with, for example, carbon dioxide, through the influence of electrical currents. With this process, new biochemicals such as methanol, dimethylether, formic acid and other fine chemicals are formed.
The development of smart electrodes for chemistry has taken off. In 2014, a few milestones were reached:
• Two of the carbon-based electrodes developed at VITO were assigned the trademarks VITO CoRE™ and VITO CasE™.
• Since the second quarter of 2014, the semi-automatic electrode production line has been fully operational.
• Thanks to the semi-automatic flexible production process and several optimisation methods, the production time for each VITO CoRE™ was reduced further.