Our research program is focussed on the following areas:
1. Design, synthesis and characterization of nanoporous materials
Periodic mesoporous materials (PMMs) exhibit unique combinations of high surface area, adjustable pores with narrow size distributions, and high pore volume. They can also be made as monoliths, foams, membranes or particles with a wide variety of morphologies and pore systems. The large internal surface offers endless opportunities for surface modifications. This great flexibility of synthesis conditions makes them suitable for a variety of applications in adsorption/separation, catalysis and many other areas. Our group focuses on the design, preparation, surface modification and characterization of PMMs and their applications for the protection of the environment through adsorption/separation and catalysis.
2. Application of nanoporous materials for environment protection
A major thrust of our research program is the design of surface-modified PMMs for adsorption of a variety of pollutants from industrial gases, air and wastewater. Studies currently underway include removal of volatile organic compounds from air using hydrophobic PMMs and separation of heavy metals from wastewater using a variety of PMMs with different surface functionalities.
However, our most important effort is geared toward the removal of CO2 from different sources using proprietary surface modified porous materials [US Patent 7,767,004 (2010), and 8,361,200 (2013)]. These new acid gas adsorbents we developed at the University of Ottawa, exhibit high CO2 uptake and fast adsorption and desorption, allowing fast cycling. They are very efficient even at low CO2 concentrations, highly selective, recyclable and stable. Applications in the energy sector such as CO2 removal from flue gas, biogas and natural gas are being pursued. In addition to adsorption equilibrium and kinetic studies, extensive effort is devoted to evaluating the stability of the materials under a variety of conditions relevant to practical applications.
3. Application of nanoporous materials in heterogeneous catalysis
PMMs are also highly suitable for the design of innovative catalysts. Highly dispersed chromium oxide is being used for selective dehydrogenation of light alkane, whereas Pd-supported nanoparticle catalysts are being tested in the selective hydrogenation of alkynes into alkenes. Other topics of interest are methane dehydroaromatization, biomass transformation into high-value chemicals and fuels and polyaromatic selective ring opening.