67051 - Physical Chemistry of Devices for the Environment and Energy

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Affordable and clean energy Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student knows the physico-chemical principles underlying the operation of important devices currently used for the reduction of atmospheric pollutants and to obtain low environmental impact energy such as catalytic converters, fuel cells, photovoltaic panels . The student also learns what specific features must possess the materials used in these devices to optimize their operation.

Course contents

Basics of thermodynamics, kinetics and catalysis.
Adsorption: physi and chemisorption. Associative and dissociative chemisorbtion. Electrode kinetic principles. Fuel Cells. Microbial fuel cells.

Semiconductors. Solar energy conversion schemes: photovoltaic systems, photoelectrochemical cells (Gratzel), photo / electrodissociation of water. Catalysts for "water splitting".


I. Chorkendorff, Concepts of Modern Catalysis and Kinetics 2003 Wiley-VCH Weinheim
P. Atkins Chimica Fisica 2012 Zanichelli Bologna

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons that will address some basic aspects of physical chemistry of environmental and energy devices, state of the technology of some devices, and some aspects of the research and development of materials for fuel cell, electrolyzers, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs).

Lab practice that will include sample and/or device preparation, experimental data collection, and data processing for evaluating some parameters of interest for the studied systems.

The number of hours dedicated to the laboratory may vary based on the number of students attending as the Lab practice will be carried out in the research laboratories of the teachers.

The students will also choose a type of device to be studied in depth with a bibliographic research and the support of the teachers. At the end of this activity the students will elaborate the concepts thus obtained which will be discussed in the form of a ppt presentation. This activity can also be carried out in small groups and will be an element of evaluation for the final mark.

Possible distance teaching will be given through Microsoft Teams with the support of Microsoft 365 software suite.


Assessment methods

The final exam is oral and aims to determine both the acquisition of expected knowledge by the course program and the student's ability to find links among the covered topics, also using the reference material provided by the teacher. Each student (or group) should prepare a brief presentationt on a topic of choice (see Teaching Methods) to be shown to the class in a selected date at the end of the course. Each student receives a mark based on the ability to present in concise and complete manner the specific issues and on the presentation. Organic vision and criticism of the topics and mastery of specific language will be evaluated very positively; mnemonic knowledge of the subject, lack of synthesis and inappropriate specific language will be evaluated not so positively.

Note: assessment methods could vary in case of extension of the anti-COVID measures. Students will be promptly informed by the teacher in case of variation.

Teaching tools

Power point presentations used during the lessons and any research material will be provided to the students in electronic format via Internet. The power point presentations used during the course will be uploaded on the site Insegnamenti on line [https://iol.unibo.it/] before the corresponding lesson. It is advisable to consult the ppt presentations before the lesson in order to be able to follow the lesson in a proactive way. It is suggested to download (or print) presentations and bring them to class in order to integrate them with notes.

Possible distance teaching will be given through Microsoft Teams with the support of Microsoft 365 software suite.

Office hours

See the website of Catia Arbizzani

See the website of Giovanni Valenti