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From an a a flow reactor!

View additional images of the flow reactor project.

An active area of research in the Boudouris group is degradation of various toxins found in water by electrocatalytic membranes to purify water in a high-throughput manner.  In a recent study, we required a flow cell for applying a potential to our catalyst embedded membrane to induce electrochemical cycling under continuous flow conditions.  Since there is no commercial option for flow reactors that meet the unique electrical and form factor needs of our membrane design, we turned to the Amy Facility with its rich and long tradition of developing custom solutions to aid in the design and development of this crucial piece of equipment in our laboratory.

Working in collaboration with the experts in the Amy Facility, Scientific Glass Shop, and Precision Machine Shop, the team developed a modular layered design with 1-in diameter electrodes in a parallel arrangement that allowed solution to flow vertically in the direction of gravity.  The membrane rests on top of a gold-plated stainless-steel working electrode with a stainless-steel counter electrode mounted above.  This arrangement maximizes membrane contact with the electrode while minimizing turbulence that could cause the membrane to lift from the electrode surface. The design also incorporated a variable spacer between electrodes for observation and controlling sample volume.  Moreover, there is an inlet for the Ag/AgCl reference electrode in the top layer for it to be slid down and seated in between the two electrodes.  Importantly, the solution inlet was designed to have a tangential offset to accommodate for proper mixing before the solution encounters the electrodes. This reactor is paired with a peristaltic pump to run continuous, steady-state flow-through experiments.

Thanks to the guidance, support, and know-how of the Amy Facility, we have a highly-functional, one-of-a-kind flow reactor built to meet our needs, and we could not be happier. This instrument will be key in creating revolutionary breakthroughs in the physical chemistry of membrane science, and it will allow for me to proceed along my degree path in a rapid manner.

Carsten Flores-Hansen
Graduate Student
Dr. Brian Boudouris Research Group
Department of Chemistry
Purdue University