Sofie Ferwerda

PhD Candidate
Employed since: March 2021
Phone: +31644741624
Room: Veining Meinesz-C building



This project, which is part of ARC CBBC and in collaboration with BASF, will focus on dry reforming of methane (DRM), wherein two major greenhouse gasses, CH4 and CO2, are converted into CO and H2, also known as synthesis gas. Synthesis gas, or briefly syngas, can be readily transformed into numerous value-added chemicals and fuels via for example Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS). However, high temperatures (800-1200 °C) are required to perform DRM since it is a highly endothermic reaction (ΔH0= +247 kJ mol-1). The catalysts employed, usually Ni-based, often suffer from rapid deactivation due to carbon deposition and sintering under these harsh conditions.

In this project, we aim to uncover new insights into the mechanism of carbon formation and deactivation, under a wide variety of reaction conditions and gas compositions. Specifically, the influence of higher carbon feedstocks (C2-C4) will be investigated, as well as the influence of sulphur poisons. This will be done with the use of novel in-situ and operando spectroscopic techniques, including operando UV-vis, Raman and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), as well as operando X-ray diffraction (XRD) and (in-situ) atomic force microscopy-infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR). The overall outcome will be new insights in the type of coke deposits formed, their entanglement with specific catalyst phases, as well as their relationship with specific reaction conditions. This will give us useful structure-performance relationships and new mechanistic insights into deactivation processes in dry methane reforming.



2021 – present
PhD candidate in the group of prof. dr. ir. Bert Weckhuysen, Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis, Utrecht University

Project title: “Operando Micro-Spectroscopy of Coke Formation in Dry Methane Reforming Catalysis”, part of ARC CBBC and in collaboration with BASF

2018 – 2021
Master’s degree in Nanomaterials Science, Utrecht University

Master thesis: “The Influence of Metals in Zeolites on the Methanol-to-Hydrocarbons Process”, supervised by S.H. van Vreeswijk and prof. dr. ir. Bert Weckhuysen

Internship at BASF de Meern under supervision of ir. A. Goulas and dr. E. Groeneveld

2015 – 2018
Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Utrecht University

Bachelor thesis: “Ag/α-Al2O3 Catalysts Prepared by Melt Infiltration for the Epoxidation of Ethylene”, supervised by P.H. Keijzer and prof. dr. P.E. de Jongh