Dr Karen Wilson
- Development of heterogeneous catalysts for clean chemical technologies and pollution control.
- Design of heterogeneous catalysts for the utilisation of renewable resources as sustainable fuels and chemical feedstocks.
- Surface analysis and surface modification.
Tightening legislation on the release of waste and toxic emissions has serious implications for the chemicals, power and automotive industries. A major emerging and challenging area of heterogeneous catalysis is that of environmental pollution control. The group research interests encompasses the application of materials chemistry, surface modification and analytical methods to the development of new heterogeneous catalysts for use in pollution abatement, cleaner synthesis and utilisation of renewable resources as fuels and chemical feedstocks. In particular we aim to derive a fundamental understanding of catalyst operation through combined studies on model and practical catalytic systems.
A wide range of surface and bulk characterisation techniques including Imaging XPS, HRTEM, MAS-NMR, XRD, EXAFS and BET/Porosimetry are commonly employed to assess the structural and reactive properties of new catalyst materials.
Figure 1: Dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2, commonly used as a building material, can be transformed into a highly active catalyst for biodiesel synthesis following calcination at 900 °C. Analysis by XPS and XRD reveals the active catalyst comprises nanoparticulate MgO supported on larger CaO clusters (Green Chemistry 2008, 10, 501).
Our research interests have also broadened into the application of novel surface modification methods to the development of new biocompatible materials. We are also intersted in studying the surfaces of archaeological artifacts and are working in collaboration with York Minster to study weathering and decay mechanisms in historic masonry.