3-D Boron nitride nanomaterials for gas separation and photocatalysis

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Department of Chemical Engineering

Abstract

The overarching aim of this project is to develop a facile, high-yield synthesis method for 3-D boron nitride (BN) nanostructures, and subsequently investigate their potential applications in gas separation and photocatalysis reactions. It is desired that this pathway offers enhanced tunability of the pore size distribution and energy band gap in boron nitride. The 3-D nanomaterials, namely lightweight monoliths and aerogels, should exhibit a hierarchical porous structure, and thereby a high surface area. This is to effect gas adsorption of binary mixtures with high selectivity, and facilitate effcient diffusion of reactants and products in photocatalysis. Further, by tuning the wide energy band gap, one of the many unique properties of boron nitride, it is of interest to examine its potential application as a visible-light-responsive photocatalyst. This application-orientated outlook is pertinent towards establishing a platform for 3-D boron nitride as a novel, multifunctional nanomaterial.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1855454 Studentship EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2020 Ravi Shankar
 
Description Designing robust, metal-free photocatalysts that can efficiently facilitate the conversion of sunlight to chemical energy remains an ongoing challenge in the field of nanomaterials. Porous and amorphous materials are typically not employed for photocatalytic purposes as the abundance of defects in the materials, which can lead to low charge mobility and favour reaction-limiting processes, such as bulk electron-hole recombination. However, a disordered nature in the material can lead to porosity, which in turn promotes both interfacial catalyst-reactant interactions and fast charge transfer to the reactants.

Here, we demonstrate for the first time that porous BN can function as both an adsorbent and a semiconductor, which is able to capture and photoreduce CO2 in a gas/solid phase reaction, under both UV-vis and pure visible light, in ambient conditions, without the need for cocatalysts. The material is able to selectively evolve CO and maintains its photocatalytic stability over several catalytic cycles. The performance of this material, which is yet to be optimized, is on par with that of TiO2, the benchmark in the field. Owing to the chemical and structural tunability of porous BN, these findings highlight the potential of porous BN-based structures for heterogeneous photocatalysis and solar fuels synthesis.
Exploitation Route These findings could have key implications in designing and tailoring a new class of robust, metal-free photocatalysts to facilitate challenging photochemical reactions. If the performance of the yet unoptimised material can be enhanced, there could be potential to scale-up the synthesis to larger quantities to establish a new platform material to enable combined CO2 capture and conversion.
Sectors Chemicals,Energy,Environment

 
Description (THEIA) - Design and engineering of porous nitride-based materials as a platform for CO2 photoreduction
Amount € 1,498,934 (EUR)
Funding ID 850624 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 02/2020 
End 01/2025
 
Description Bansal Bursary
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation Imperial College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2017 
End 11/2018
 
Description Grantham Institute Travel Grant
Amount £200 (GBP)
Organisation Imperial College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 11/2019
 
Description Porous boron nitride for combined CO2 capture and photoreduction 
Organisation Imperial College London
Department Department of Chemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution In this study, we aim to investigate employing porous boron nitride (BN), an emerging nanomaterial, as a heterogeneous photocatalyst to facilitate combined CO2 capture and conversion through gas phase photoreduction. We were responsible for synthesising this new class of porous BN, conducting in-depth characterisation and detailed testing of the material for CO2 photoreduction. For the first time, we were able to show that porous BN can function as a UV-Vis photocatalyst to enable combined CO2 capture and gas phase photoreduction without the need for co-catalysts.
Collaborator Contribution With a proof of concept in place to show that our material is able to function as a photocatalyst for gas phase phase CO2 photoreduction, our collaborations with the Department of Chemistry and Department of Materials at Imperial College London have enabled us to gain fundamental insight into the key physical-chemical and photocatalytic properties of the material governing the reaction which, prior to this study, had not been investigated.
Impact The project on which we are currently collaborating is still in progress, but we hope to achieve a high impact publication as the key output from this work.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Imperial Festival 2018 Demonstration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Imperial Festival is an annual event run at the College, which aims to promote and communicate the research taking place across the university to the general public. Our group presented our research work on porous materials for separation applications through a practical demonstration involving CO2 adsorption in zeolites. Over the course of two days, over 100 people of different ages from the general public attended our demonstration, which sparked a lot of interest and public engagement. We were voted as the best stand in our section of the exhibition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Poster Presentation at Imperial College Energy Showcase 2019 - South Kensington Campus, Imperial College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Imperial College hosted the annual Energy Showcase in November 2019, in which research groups across various departments in the Faculty of Engineering presented posters and hands-on demonstrations of their research to the general public and fellow researchers. Our group, the Multifunctional Nanomaterials Lab led by Dr Camille Petit, presented our work on porous materials for adsorption-based applications, water purification and CO2 capture and conversion in the form of a poster and 3-D model equipment. Approximately 50-100 members attended the event and the audience engaged extremely well with our exhibition. We received a lot of interest, both from the general public and fellow researchers from other Departments, who asked interesting questions and were keen to know more about the research in our group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/194333/energy-futures-lab-showcases-energy-research/
 
Description Poster Presentation at Solar Fuels Symposium - White City Campus, Imperial College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The Grantham Institute and Imperial College London hosted the Renewable Fuels and Sustainable Energy Symposium at the White City Campus at Imperial College London in November 2018. I presented a poster on my work on "Porous boron nitride for combined CO2 capture and photoreduction", for which I was awarded the prize for 'Best Poster for Scientific Content' by the judging panel.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Promotion of research in Multifunctional Nanomaterials Lab on ChemEng Conversations talk show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Camille Petit, Principal Investigator of the Multifunctional Nanomaterials Lab, was interviewed on the talk show, ChemEng Conversations, where she discussed the research being conducted in the group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Royal Society of Chemistry Research Demonstration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact As part of the Royal Society of Chemistry outreach event, we presented our research work on multifunctional nanomaterials at the White City Campus of Imperial College London to a group of visiting academics and professional practitioners. There was plenty of audience participation, which sparked questions and discussion, and we received positive feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018