sustainable chemistry and processes
The group aims to enhance sustainability by generating and using new fundamental insights on the molecular and nanoscopic level to develop feasible leads for the design of new catalytic chemical routes and processes.
Renewable chemical and fuels
This project aims to create renewable chemicals and fuels from readily available biomass feedstocks (carbohydrates, lignin, lignocellulose) in state-of-the-art continuous flow reactors. Research will involve the use of high-pressure chemistry (Parr & SPR-16 reactors) and analytical techniques for determination of reaction products and kinetics. Design and synthesis of model compounds will also form a significant part of this project. This project has significant funding through a SIEF grant (http://bit.ly/Lkd48z) and involves collaboration the CSIRO James Cook University and The School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (USyd).
Aqueous phase reforming
This refers to the conversion of simple sugars to alkanes in water at 250 °C using heterogeneous catalysts. Development of this process, in which cellulosic biomass feedstocks are used, will play an important role in creating valuable chemicals and fuels from non-fossil sources. Currently this approach is the only viable alternative for the replacement of liquid fossil fuels that does not compete with agriculture. A major problem associated with the processing of biomass currently is the presence of low levels of sulfur that poison the catalysts used. Hence, one of the main aims of this project is the development of new catalyst systems that will have enhanced sulfur resistance.
Ionic liquids as novel reaction media
Ionic liquids are salts that are liquid at room temperature. As they are composed of cations and anions, they have a high degree of organization and their properties are readily manipulated. Projects in this area involve: the synthesis and characterisation of ionic liquids; their use for controlling reaction outcomes (selective product formation, stereochemistry, mechanism); stabilising reactive nanoparticle surfaces for heterogeneous catalysis and nanotechnology applications; as templates for novel materials syntheses; electrochemistry and novel energy storage applications.
Photocatalysis: Hydrogen from water
This process is still a long way from being effective enough to be useful. Here, we aim to prepare new materials based on band-gap engineering of self-assembled nanostructures (to enable them to absorb visible light) to provide better catalysts for this reaction. Our focus lies on TiO2 nanoparticles decorated with the multifunctional nanostructures coupled with reducing ‘sacrificial’ solutions that enhance the thermodynamics of the system. Such solutions are often industrial waste streams. Hence, we aim to simultaneously clean up waste-water whilst generating hydrogen for energy and chemical applications.
This research group undertakes multidisciplinary research. In addition to the standard (NMR, IR, UV-Vis, mass spectrometry) we routinely use such techniques as:
- Scanning & Tunneling electron microscopies (SEM and TEM);
- Gas & High-Pressure Liquid chromatographies (GC and HPLC) with optional MS;
- X-ray diffraction (XRD) and small angle x-ray diffraction (SAXS);
- Nitrogen sorption for analysis of porous materials;
- Dynamic light scattering (DLS);
- Raman Spectroscopy.
The research group also has strong collaborative ties with The University of Oxford, Università Ca' Foscari in Venice, Italy (through Cotutelle student exchanges), CSIRO, James Cook University (Townsville), The School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (USyd), Ignite Energy Resources, Licella, MBD, Alpha Chemicals and Energy Storage Australia (ESA).
For further information, please contact:
School of Chemistry
University of Sydney NSW 2006
Phone: +61 2 9351 2581