We leverage our fundamental knowledge on physical-chemistry and engineering to study complex multi-phasic reaction systems and create novel synthetic catalytic materials for the sustainable production of renewable energies and chemicals.
By Integrating molecular -sensing and -actuation mechanisms directly on conventional catalysts we are paving the way for autonomous catalytic reaction processes, allowing us to develop the next generation of process-intensive, modular, and robust reactors for chemicals production, energy conversion, and environmental remediation.
"To create the designing rules and fundamental knowledge required for the development of innovative catalytic materials and processes that can enable a leap-forward transition of the fuels and chemicals sectors into more sustainable, safer, and productive industries."
Activation of Small Molecules
Conversion of C1 and C2 feedstocks into Chemical Platforms
Mimicking mother nature's adaptability and responsiveness
Finding Sustainable Pathways for Waste Valorisation
Project 1: Reactions for biomass conversion
Using biomass to produce added-value chemicals is crucial for the development of more sustainable chemical industry. Biomass, however, is an over functionalized due to the presence of excess oxygen. Therefore, selective de-oxygenation strategies must be developed to achieve sufficient yields to guarantee the scalability of the process. In this assignment, we will explore the selective conversion of bio-derived molecules into chemical platforms using solid catalysts in liquid environments. This project will involve catalyst synthesis, testing, and characterisation at the Catalytic Processes and Materials Group (CPM).
Project 2: Heat-transport and mechanical stress
When using hybrid catalytic materials containing organic and inorganic domains with significant differences in physico-chemical properties it is extremely important to anticipate the possible mechanical and chemical stresses that will be exerted on the material during catalytic reaction. Here, we will study the effect of thermal expansion on the structural integrity of a catalyst containing polymeric functionalities at the entrance of the pores using finite element analysis.
Project 3: Role of Catalyst Wettability
The presence of water molecules is ubiquitous to biomass and bio-derived streams (e.g. bio-ethanol, bio-syngas, bio-diesel). For this reason, when performing reactions to convert biomass into added-value products it is germane to tailor the catalyst structure to withstand the harsh reaction environment caused by hot condensed water. Tailoring the surface wettability of the catalyst and crystalline structure of the catalyst is necessary to properly extend the catalyst live. In this project, we will study the adsorption of oxygenated molecules in aqueous environments using catalytic materials with increasing hydrophobicity.