Investigating electro- and sonoelectro-oxidation processes for sustainability on Earth and the exploration of space

McHugh, Patrick J. (2022) Investigating electro- and sonoelectro-oxidation processes for sustainability on Earth and the exploration of space. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In recent years, there has been an explosion in the adoption of electrochemical methods for tackling many of the environmental issues we face in modern society. This electrochemical approach encompasses a range of highly tuneable techniques which often remove the need for harmful chemicals and high temperatures. In this thesis, we will examine how electrochemistry can be utilised for the development of “green” processes based on electrooxidation. Demonstrating the versatility of these techniques the work herein covers a wide range of fields, the results from which can have consequences stretching from removal of pollutants from water to future space travel.

Chapter 1 provides context to the research in chapters 3 to 5; namely in introducing the motivations and current state of research behind the development of anion exchange membrane electrolysers as a clean energy solution, the implementation of electrolysis systems in space missions, and the use of combined sono-electrochemical methods for water decontamination. In Chapter 2, the experimental techniques behind the research in this thesis is reported.

Chapter 3 reports the development of a novel anion-exchange membrane electrolyser, and its use in the electrochemical degradation of the naturally occurring polymer, lignin. The performance of the membrane, a co-polymer of dehydrofluorinated poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene) with (vinylbenzyl)trimethylammonium chloride and Nvinylimidazole, was benchmarked against a commercial equivalent yielding comparable results.

In Chapter 4, we report an investigation into the efficiency of oxygen-evolving electrolysis at gravity levels between 0 and 1 g. The data collected from this experiment, carried out as part of the European Space Agency’s Fly Your Thesis programme, is the first study to examine the efficiency of this process at gravitational fields equal to that of the Moon and Mars. This process was tested not just at reduced gravity levels but also at those exceeding Earth’s gravity, finding that results collected in hypergravity can be extrapolated to predict the performance of the procedure in microgravity.

In Chapter 5 we revisit the work introduced in Chapter 1 with an investigation in to the sonoelectrochemical degradation of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac. Coupling low-frequency sonication with electrolysis performed using a Pt/Ti anode, a degradation removal efficiency of 64% under optimal conditions was achieved. Comparison of this method with non-coupled electrolytic and sonolytic degradation indicated that at 80 kHz, there was a
strong synergistic effect.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Supervisor's Name: Symes, Professor Mark
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-83429
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2023 13:52
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2023 08:47
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83429
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