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Inorganic-organic hybrid materials for use in structured catalytic reactors and membranes

Project Overview

Through the polymerisation of high internal phase emulsions (polyHIPEs) it has been demonstrated that highly porous permeable structures can be produced. The properties of polyHIPEs such as porosity, permeability and crush strength can be varied meaning that they can be manufactured to be suitable for several industrial applications. Due to their intricate permeable structures it possible to pass fluids through a polyHIPE giving rise to the idea that they could be used as static mixers. Due their high permeabilities yet complex pore structure they could yield effective mixing at low flow rates. This would be useful in pharmaceutical reactions where a small quantity of high purity product is required and poor mixing could result in the production of unwanted side products. Another potential use for the PolyHIPEs is a supports for catalysts in reactors similar to trickle bed reactors. However it could have several advantages over trickle bed reactors. The permeability could be significantly higher as the fluid now flows though the cavities left by the continuous phase which as stated would be around with a similar surface area for reaction. PolyHIPEs could also be tailored to have improved crush strength compared to trickle bed reactors. PolyHIPEs could also have applications in inorganic membrane production. Zeolite have the ability to offer filtration with very well defined molecular weight cut-offs due to their regular pore sizes. However the brittleness of the zeolite means it has not been possible to create sheet membranes such as those produced from polymers. However if zeolite particles could be inserted into the pore throats then effective sieving could be achieved while still maintaining a high permeability.

Researcher

Michael Tebboth
Affiliated PhD student

Supervisors:
Dr. Andreas Kogelbauer
Prof. Alexander Bismarck

Sponsor:
EPSRC via DTA

 

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