Doctorate cum laude for Luca Vialetto

November 29th 2021

DIFFER PhD researcher Luca Vialetto obtained his doctorate cum laude on 25 November 2021. His thesis is titled Modelling of plasmas for CO2 conversion: electron kinetics, chemistry and transport.

Luca Vialetto. Photo: DIFFER/Bas Gijselhart

Carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas generated from human activities, gives the largest contribution to global warming. In order to limit dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, research is ongoing to efficiently convert CO2 into new fuels by means of renewable energy. The main idea is to dissociate CO2 using a plasma (an ionized gas) and to convert dissociation products into chemicals and fuels in a sustainable carbon-neutral way. Despite impressive progress in the past few years, the main mechanisms underlying plasma assisted CO2 dissociation are still unknown. In fact, complex chemical networks, transport phenomena and multiple time scales characterize CO2 dissociation kinetics. In order to obtain a thorough understanding of the physical and chemical processes involved in CO2 dissociation, fast and accurate computer models are required. In this thesis, CO2 dissociation in a high frequency (microwave) plasma is investigated numerically by means of fully native codes, based on Monte Carlo simulations and fluid models. In particular, a variance reduction technique is presented for fast and accurate simulations of electrons in a plasma. Moreover, a novel chemical kinetic reaction pathway is proposed to describe dissociation in CO2 microwave plasmas. Results from the codes have been extensively benchmarked against analytical and other numerical solutions and validated against experimental measurements. Simulations with the algorithms and codes implemented for this thesis provide valuable insight into electron kinetics, chemistry and transport mechanisms in microwave plasmas for CO2 conversion.

More on Luca Vialetto
Interview Annual Report 2019

Cover Thesis
Modelling of plasmas for CO2 conversion: electron kinetics, chemistry and transport'. Illustration by Frea Zwaag, Julia van Leeuwen