MEMBRANES AND MATERIALS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SEPARATIONS – About the Group

Objectives

The main research activities focus on the development and physicochemical characterisation of nanoporous materials, membranes and catalytic systems and their applications in advanced physicochemical processes of high environmental, energy and industrial interest.

The research group is classified as a European leader in the S&T field of adsorption/absorption, diffusion and scattering (neutrons and X-ray) and has developed novel pore structure characterisation techniques based on a supplemental approach for interpreting the results generated from the application of adsorption in conjunction with neutron scattering experiments.

Moreover a significant part of the research activity relates to the development of modelling tools for the simulation of materials and processes via molecular dynamics or mesoscopic computational techniques.

Activities and Main Results

Synthesis of nanoporous materials, membranes and catalysts.

  • Development and characterization of nanostructured materials for hydrogen storage (MOFs, metal hydrides, metal doped nanostructured carbons and organized mesoporous carbons infiltrated with complex hydrides).
  • Synthesis and characterisation of supported metal nanoparticles for heterogeneous catalytic applications including: deNOx, CO oxidation, CH4, WGS reaction and HC reforming.
  • Synthesis of silane modified ionic liquids and development / characterization of hybrid nanocomposite membranes and materials (Ionic Liquids / ceramic or carbon substrate nanocomposites) for CO2 capture and separation.
  • Development of carbon based nano-composites with improved antifouling /fouling release properties.
  • Preparation and characterization of polymers and polymer/clay nanocomposites with improved barrier properties, for packaging and coatings applications.
  • Modification and utilisation of natural algal products and processing by-products (i.e. polysaccharides, alginic acids etc.) for the development of porous adsorbents and membranes for environmental applications and pollutant separations (i.e. heavy metal and pesticide removal from water streams, waste and brackish water treatment etc.)
  • CVD development of multi-walled and single-walled carbon nanotubes.
  • Development, modification and optimization of membranes, filters and membrane systems: Chemical Vapour Deposition of SiO2 and TiO2 [CVD], Langmuir-Blodgett Deposition, Phase Inversion, Carbonisation – Activation.
  • Synthesis and characterisation of single and multi-layered hollow-fibres for gas separation and water treatment.
  • Synthesis and characterisation of zeolitic membranes (AlPO4-5), Zeolite Imidazolate Framework membranes (ZIFs) and Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) for gas separation.
  • Template assisted single wall carbon nanotubes growth and SWCNT membranes with high water flux for desalination applications.

Pore Structure Analysis & Characterisation – Performance evaluation.

  • Pore size distribution, surface area analysis, pore volume and pore connectivity by applying techniques such as: nitrogen and mercury porosimetry, absolute and relativity gas and gas vapours permeability (single and multi-phase), adsorption in conjunction with neutron scattering experiments.
  • Microscopy (Scanning Electron-Field Emission, Atomic Force)
  • Spectroscopy (HPLC, GC, MS, EDAX).
  • Development of techniques for characterising the surface chemistry of porous materials (adsorption /desorption of probe molecules, multiple base titration, temperature programmed desorption – mass spectroscopy (TPD-MS).
  • Characterisation, evaluation and performance validation of porous materials, membranes and catalysts under the framework of various environmental and industrial applications (separation of gaseous pollutants, gas-liquid-vapour permeability-selectivity, reverse osmosis, photocatalysis, nano and ultra-filtration, heavy metal adsorption, control drug release and transcutaneous dosing systems, other biotechnological applications etc.)

Modelling.

  • Mass transfer simulation in porous media by continuous or molecular level approaches.
  • Monte Carlo simulations of fluid-solid equilibria.

Applications with Industrial interest.

  • Gas Storage and Gas separations (H2, CH4, CO2, etc.)
  • Effective reduction of the use of precious metals in automotive catalysts
  • Treatment and exploitation of Natural Gas and the gas streams of Oil refineries
  • Effective and sustainable water treatment processes
  • Carbon-polymer nanocomposites for marine applications
  • Nanocomposites for super-hydrophobic nanostructured top coatings for aircraft.