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Dr M Sankar

Dr M Sankar

Lecturer in Physical Chemistry

School of Chemistry

Email
sankar@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 5748
Fax:
+44 (0)29 2087 4030
Campuses
2.73, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

Sankar’s research focuses on the development of heterogeneous catalysts for the production of chemicals and fuel components from renewable and unconventional feedstock such as lignocellulosic biomass and CO2. He is also interested in working at the interface between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis by developing heterogeneous catalysts for transformations that are traditionally homogeneously catalysed.

His research involves development of heterogeneous catalysts (supported metal nanoparticles, supported single atoms, metal oxides, inorganic – organic hybrid materials), catalyst testing (selective oxidation, hydrogenation, hydrogenolysis, cascade reactions, depolymerisation), mechanistic investigation (in situ spectroscopic studies, kinetic studies), catalyst characterisation (state-of-the-art microscopic and spectroscopic studies) and structure-activity correlation. The overarching theme of Sankar’s research is to develop catalysts for a green and sustainable future.

Key Publications: 

Mitchell, C. E.et al. 2021. A surface oxidised Fe-S catalyst for the liquid phase hydrogenation of CO2. Catalysis Science and Technology 11, pp. 779-784. 

Mitchell, C.et al. 2021. The role of surface oxidation and Fe-Ni synergy in Fe-Ni-S catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation. Faraday Discussions (In Press)

Guadix-Montero, S.et al. 2020. Controlling the selectivity of supported Ru nanoparticles during glycerol hydrogenolysis: C−O vs C−C cleavage. ChemCatChem (In Press)

Sankar,M.et al. 2020. Role of the support in gold-containing nanoparticles as heterogeneous catalysts. Chemical Reviews 120(8), pp. 3890-3938. 

Macino, M.et al. 2019. Tuning of catalytic sites in Pt/TiO2 catalysts for chemoselective hydrogenation of 3-nitrostyrene. Nature Catalysis 2, pp. 873-881. 

Luo, W.et al. 2015. High performing and stable supported nano-alloys for the catalytic hydrogenation of levulinic acid to γ-valerolactone. Nature Communications 6, article number: 6540.

Sankar, M.et al. 2014. The benzaldehyde oxidation paradox explained by the interception of peroxy radical by benzyl alcohol. Nature Communications 5, article number: 3332. 

Sankar, M.et al. 2012. Designing bimetallic catalysts for a green and sustainable future. Chemical Society Reviews 41(24), pp. 8099-8139. 

Sankar, M.et al. 2012. Synthesis of stable ligand-free gold-palladium nanoparticles using a simple excess anion method. ACS Nano 6(8), pp. 6600-6613.

Biography

B. Sc. in Chemistry, St. Xavier's College, Tirunelveli, India (1998), M.Sc. in Chemistry, The American College, Madurai, India (2001), PhD in Heterogeneous Catalysis, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India (2007, Dr. P. Manikandan), Postdoctoral Research Associate, Cardiff University, UK (2007-2011, Prof Graham J. Hutchings FRS), Marie-Curie Intra-European Research Fellow, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (2011-2013, Prof. B. M. Weckhuysen), University Research Fellow, Cardiff Catalysis Institute, School of Chemistry Cardiff University (2014 - 2019), Lecturer in Physical Chemistry, Cardiff Catalysis Institute, School of Chemistry, Cardiff University (2019 - till date). 

Honours and awards

  1. Junior & Senior Research Fellowship (2002) by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India for PhD Research.
  2. Lectureship (2001) by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India.
  3. Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship for Career Development (2011) by the Research Executive Agency, FP-7.
  4. Honorary Research Associate (2011-2014), Cardiff University, UK.
  5. University Research Fellowship (2014) by Cardiff University, UK.

Honours and awards

  1. Junior & Senior Research Fellowship (2002) by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India for PhD Research.
  2. Lectureship (2001) by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India.
  3. Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship for Career Development (2011) by the Research Executive Agency, FP-7.
  4. Honorary Research Associate (2011-2014), Cardiff University, UK.
  5. Chancellor's Research Fellowship (2014) by the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, Cardiff University, UK.

Publications

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2006

2004

0

Teaching

Module Leader

CH0001 - Fundamental Aspects of Chemistry

CH0005 - Introduction to Green and Sustainable Chemistry

Lecturer

CH5102 - Foundations of Inorganic Chemistry 

CH3411 - Catalytic Materials for Green Chemistry

Practical Modules

CH5110 - Chemistry Foundation Practical

CH2306 - Application of Research Methods

Other responsibilities

Chemistry Coordinator for Prelim Year

Member of Learning & Teaching Committee. 

  • Developing strategies for the synthesis of supported monometallic and bimetallic nanoparticles for catalytic applications
  • Catalyst development for CO2 utilization.
  • Catalyst development for renewable feedstock valorisation (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin)
  • Mechanistic investigation of catalytic processes using kinetic and in-situ spectroscopic methods.
  • Developing heterogeneous catalysts for transformations that are traditionally homogeneously catalysed

Catalyst Synthesis Strategies

In this theme, we are interested in developing simple and effective strategies for the synthesis of supported monometallic and bimetallic nanoparticles based catalysts for various organic transformations including selective oxidation, selective hydrogenation/hydrogenolysis and hydrogen auto transfer reactions. The challenge is to prepare these catalysts with precise control over the size, composition and nanostructure / shape by tuning the synthesis parameters. We design new methodologies by combining aspects of material science, nanotechnology and catalyst characterisation. In another part of this theme, we aim to design heterogeneous catalysts that are active, stable and selective for the above-mentioned organic transformations.

References

  1. Paalanen, et al. Catalysis Science & Technology, 3 (2013) 2869.
  2. Sankar et al. ACS Nano 6 (2012) 6600.
  3. Sankar et al. Chemistry: A European Journal. 17 (2011) 6524.
  4. Macino et al. Nature Catalysis 3 (2020) 683.

Renewable Feedstock

In this theme, we aim to develop catalytic systems (supported metal, mixed metal oxides, polyoxometalates, zeolites, inorganic-organic hybrid) for the valorisation of renewable materials such as CO2, lignocellulosic biomass components (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin). For the CO2 valorisation reactions, we aim to develop heterogeneous catalysts for the (a) synthesis of cyclic carbonates from epoxides and CO2, (b) transesterification of cyclic carbonates to prepare dimethyl carbonate and glycols and (c) synthesis of polycarbonates from epoxides and CO2.

References

  1. US Patent: 6,924,379, Indian Patent (Granted).
  2. Sankar et al. Applied Catalysis A: General 276 (2004) 217.
  3. Sankar et al. ChemSusChem 3 (2010) 575.
  4. Luo et al. Nature Communications 6 (2015) 6540. 
  5. Mitchell et al. Catalysis Science and Technology 11 (2021) 779.
  6. Mitchell et al. Faraday Discussions (2021) - In Press

Mechanistic Investigation

In this theme, we use in-situ spectroscopic, kinetic methodologies to understand the mechanism of catalytic reactions (oxidation, hydrogenation and hydrogen auto transfer reactions). We use this information in the catalyst development program to design more active and selective catalysts. For example, we used EPR spectroscopic method to understand the reason behind the formation of nearly 99% of benzaldehyde during the catalytic selective aerobic oxidation of benzyl alcohol in spite of the fact that benzaldehyde readily oxidises to benzoic acid at room temperature in air. We found that traces of benzyl alcohol (substrate) inhibit the oxidation of benzaldehyde by selectively quenching the radicals (Figure below).

References

  1. Sankar et al., Nature Communications, 5 (2014), 3332.
  2. Nowicka et al., Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 15 (2013) 12147.
  3. Sankar et al., Faraday Discussions, 145 (2010) 341.

Supervision

I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of 

- Supported Metal Nanoparticles for Selective Organic Transformations (Oxidation, Hydrogenation).

- Heterogeneous Catalysts for CO2 conversion to value added products.

- Supported Single - Atom Catalysts for Selective Organic Transformations (Oxidation, Hydrogenation). 

- Fundamental Understanding of Catalyst Synthesis. 

- Catalytic Biomass Conversion.

Current supervision

Heba Alsharif

Research student

Maha Alreshidi

Research student

Kennedy	Jones

Kennedy Jones

Research student

Lifeng Xiao

Lifeng Xiao

Research student

Layla Aleyadah

Research student

Bello Ahmad

Bello Ahmad

Research student

Josh Davies

Josh Davies

Research student

Past projects

List of PhD students who graduated from Sankar's group. 

Dr. Susana Guadix Montero - Catalytic conversion of biomass. PhD Thesis (awarded in 2019), Cardiff University (http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/125611) - Currently working as a Process Development Chemist at Infineum International Limited, UK.

Dr. Claire Mitchell - Liquid phase catalytic hydrogenation of carbon dioxide. PhD Thesis (awarded in 2020), Cardiff University (http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/133537) - Currently working as a Scientist at TFP Hydrogen Products Limited, UK.