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Prof Stuart Taylor  -  BSc(hons) PhD MRSC


 

  • The development of heterogeneous catalysts for environmental protection. Examples include the development of nanocrystalline metal oxide and supported metal catalysts for the oxidative destruction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and ambient temperature carbon monoxide oxidation for life support applications.
  • The investigation of heterogeneous catalysts for selective oxidation under mild conditions, focusing on short chain alkanes (C1-C3), functionalised hydrocarbons, aromatics/polyaromatics and sustainable bio-renewable feedstocks.
  • Catalyst preparation, including novel methods such as supercritical antisolvent precipitation, and the relationship between methods of catalyst synthesis, solid state structure/properties, activity and mechanism.
  • Other current heterogeneous catalysis research interests include Fischer Tropsch synthesis, aromatization, applications of colloids as recoverable catalysts, use of novel catalyst supports and solid acid catalysts for fine chemical synthesis.
Representation of a VOC molecule binding to a catalyst surface.

Some recent examples of environmental catalysis have focussed on the removal of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from the atmosphere. Atmospheric VOCs, released from a wide variety of sources, have received considerable attention, since they have been implicated in ozone depletion and formation of photochemical smog. We have shown that the activity of supported palladium and platinum-based catalysts can be significantly enhanced for the destruction of a range of VOCs, by modification with component such as vanadium and niobium. High activity nanocrystalline metal oxides have been identified for the oxidation of alkane and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). There are very few studies of the oxidation of PAHs and they can be particularly difficult to oxidise totally, and hence the identification of high activity catalysts is a significant discovery. Understanding the role of catalysts in total oxidation has also helped with the development of effective catalysts for selective oxidation.

 Scanning electron micrograph of a niobium phosphate catalyst for the selective oxidation of ethane and of a nanocrystalline ceria catalyst prepared by precipitation with urea.