FASTCARD - FAST industrialisation by CAtalysts Research and Development

Interview: Diego Pena

Name: Diego Alexander Pena Zapata
Title: Post-Doc
Supervisor: Prof. Magnus Rønning
FASTCARD partner: Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The study is carried out within the FASTCARD work package; WP2, "CO2-FTS"

Why did you choose to work within the area of biofuels and renewable energy?

- In the near future, the energy supplies needs to be changed to renewable sources. Therefore, we need research in the area of alternative energy, and biofuels production is one of the most promising technologies since the biomass resources are relatively large.

How does your study relate to the aims of FASTCARD?

- I am working in the production of synthetic hydrocarbons and fuels from rich CO2 syngas normally coming from biomass via the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis using iron-based catalysts.

Please explain your approach and the methods and instrumentation you use to obtain your goals

- My work is focused on catalyst characterization, so I use a lot of in-situ and ex-situ characterization techniques such as XRD, TEM, SEM, TGA-MS, GC-MS, EXAFS-XANES, RAMAN etc.

What research challenge are you currently focusing on?

- Understanding how iron-based catalysts work during Fischer-Tropsch synthesis i.e. identification of iron active phases, carbon surface species intermediates, chemical and physical features of the working catalysts. The aim is to decode the most relevant deactivation mechanisms and then propose better formulation and activation protocols for optimization of iron-based catalysts for the production of hydrocarbons.

Please explain how you are working with this challenge

- First, we study the catalytic behavior of the catalysts and then based on an exhaustive characterization of the catalyst, both before and after reaction. Both before and after reaction, or even in operando mode (in-situ characterization). We determine how the catalyst features change during the reaction and how the operating conditions (e.g. temperature, presence of CO2 on the syngas) could affect them.

What kind of interests do you have beside your study?

I very much like to do different sports: biking, running, swinging, football and indoor sport. Many new ideas pop into my head while I am doing some sort of physical activity, and many of these ideas I use to employ in my research work.


Published June 10, 2015

This project has received funding from the European Union's FP7 research and Innovation programme under GA. No. 604277