Research database

MEXCAT - Metal EXsolved CATalysts for the CO2 valorisation to methanol: design, synthesis, and characterisation of nextgeneration catalysts, unravelling their structure-activity relationship

24 months (2022 - 2024)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
UE-funded research - HE - Excellent Science - MSCA
Funding body:
PoliTo role:


The European Union goal of a 80-95% decrease of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 requires, among other strategies, new functional materials and sustainable approaches for clean energy generation and pollutant abatement. The chemical valorisation of CO2 is a highly promising green solution involving the recycling and reuse of CO2 effluents as carbon source for fuels and chemicals, such as methanol. The low CO2 conversion, triggered by catalytic nanoparticles (NPs) deactivation by sintering and limited selectivity, however, limits its industrial growth. The first aim of this proposal is to design next-generation stable and selective catalysts for the CO2 hydrogenation to methanol, that can rival state-of-the-art materials through the ambitious achievement of 10% methanol yield. This will be done by NP exsolution, a novel route to achieve stable anchored NPs, which has barely been explored for this application, despite the superior catalytic properties unique to exsolved systems. To then unravel the lack of fundamental understanding in the catalytic mechanisms of exsolved systems, we will characterise the correlation of their structure with their reactivity and selectivity via a unique in situ/operando approach (second aim). The role of active sites such as exsolved NPs and structural defects will be elucidated by in situ/operando Infrared (FTIR) and Raman studies; we will monitor the composition and strain evolution of the materials surfaces during catalytic processing by state-of-the-art in situ photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The unique expertise of the host supervisor in CO2 hydrogenation catalysts testing and characterisation by in situ/operando FTIR and Raman, and of the secondment group in XPS studies of catalysts on-stream, coupled with my experience in exsolved systems design and in situ TEM characterisation will advance the fields of exsolution and CO2 valorisation catalysis, allowing me to gain a unique skillset.

People involved



ERC sectors

PE5_6 - New materials: oxides, alloys, composite, organic-inorganic hybrid, nanoparticles

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 7. Assicurare a tutti l’accesso a sistemi di energia economici, affidabili, sostenibili e moderni


Total cost: € 172,750.08
Total contribution: € 172,750.08
PoliTo total cost: € 172,750.08
PoliTo contribution: € 172,750.08

Communication activities