Paola Diomede (DIFFER) has been awarded an NWO-KLEIN grant for research on the conversion of molecules into valuable chemicals like fertilizers by means of plasmas. She will develop a new model for vibrationally excited molecules to answer the fundamental questions that cannot be answered by current models.
The conventional way to produce fertilizers is the so called Haber-Bosch process, where nitrogen and hydrogen are converted into ammonia, which in turn is converted into nitrates. A novel and hopefully cheaper approach to produce nitrates would be to use a plasma, but there are a lot of fundamental questions to be answered first. Diomede will develop a model to simulate this process and to identify the key mechanisms that drive it. “How can we speed up this process? That is one of the basic questions that we hope to answer with our modelling in collaboration with experimentalists at DIFFER”, Diomede explains.
Plasma conversion of molecules into chemicals has many applications, ranging from clean energy like solar fuels to materials science. Diomede’s model might even come in handy for studying gas flows and shock waves that trouble the re-entry of spacecrafts.
CPPC: simulate plasmas
Diomede is head of the DIFFER research group Computational Plasma Physics and Chemistry (CPPC). She develops and uses numerical techniques to simulate plasmas, like the ones used for recycling CO2 into fuels.
In the NWO KLEIN researchers can apply individually or in collaboration for curiosity-driven, fundamental research. The KLEIN grant offers researchers the possibility to elaborate creative and risky ideas and to realize scientific innovations that can form the basis for the research themes of the future.