Ionic Liquids and Electroactive Materials for Sustainable Chemistry
"Liquids made up entirely of ions"
Ammonia Electrosynthesis by Direct Reduction of Nitrogen
Ammonia is one of the most widely produced chemicals world-wide, using 1% of the world's total energy consumption for its production. We are looking to replace the currently used Haber-Bosch method with an electrosynthesis method that is more energy efficient and does not produce CO2. Using ionic liquids as an electrolyte for the process, we are achieving significant advances in efficiency at room temperature and ambient pressure.
"Artificial Photosynthesis" - producing renewable fuels from sustainable sources using the sun
Using photo-active catalysts and novel electrolytes, this research aims to use the sun's energy to synthesise fuels from sustainable stocks. Most notably, we focus on H2 gas generation from water, and methanol synthesis from atmospheric CO2.
Thermal energy storage - phase change materials
PCMs absorb energy when phase transitioning from solid to liquid and release energy when transitioning back from liquid to solid. These materials are the future of inexpensive renewable energy storage. We design and investigate libraries of ionic liquids that phase change with a large heat of fusion between suitable temperatures, are readily available, non-toxic and cycle efficiently between phases indefinitely.
Carbon dioxide capture
The materials used today for capturing CO2 from industrial processes (e.g. monoethanolamine, used in coal power plants) often require many safety precautions to avoid toxic exposure. Protic ionic liquids with similar molecular structures are being investigated for CO2 capture, as they potentially offer increased safety and stability.
ILs as electrolytes for batteries
Ionic liquids have been investigated for several years to replace volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as electrolytes for domestic and industrial batteries. Our work is shifting focus to different types of batteries, to increase safety and allow advancements in terms of power density and/or reduced costs. Currently our work has been focused on metal-air batteries, sodium-based batteries and redox flow batteries.
Active Ionic Liquids
While many ILs are selected for their inert properties, ILs can be designed with their chemical properties in mind. We are investigating new ionic liquids that are made from ions with medicinal, anti-microbial, or anti-corrosive properties for applications.
Biomass Dissolution and Processing in Ionic Liquids
We are investigating ions with ability to dissolve biomass, enabling recovery and utilisation of currently discarded materials (e.g. poultry feathers).
Organic Ionic Plastic Crystals
These interesting materials are the solid state relatives of ionic liquids and they can exhibit very interesting solid state conduction behaviour.