Investigation into the use of waste sources for greening the synthesis of LDH materials and developing their applications for future technologies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: OxICFM CDT

Abstract

Layered double hydroxides (LDHs) are a family of synthetic materials similar to naturally occurring layered minerals such as the clay hydrotalcite. First discovered over 175 years ago, they remain the focus of much research in numerous different fields. They possess many attractive properties for those interested in developing new technologies, owing to the ease of including a large number of different elements in their structure and the many different chemicals that can be stored between their layers. This allows researchers to fine-tune the materials' properties for a wide range of different applications ranging from plastic additives to the controlled release of drugs for medical treatments. They can also be used to improve the efficiency of industrial processes or to capture potentially dangerous emissions such as carbon dioxide or toxins from manufacturing.
If these new technologies are to be adopted on an industrial scale, it is important that green synthesis methods are developed to minimise the environmental impact of their production. Current production methods use expensive metal salts and produce large amounts of salt rich effluent. Production of these metal salt feedstocks requires high energy inputs which are associated with large greenhouse gas emissions. One way to make these processes greener is to use waste products as the starting materials. This reduces the cost of treating waste produced by other industrial processes, thereby increasing their economic efficiency. Such recycling of the metal content of potentially toxic waste ties in with the idea of a circular economy in which products are constantly recycled into the raw materials needed to produce new products, minimising the need to exploit the environment for additional resources.
Recent work has shown Struvite, a waste mineral extracted during municipal wastewater treatment which can otherwise cause costly blockages in pipes, can be successfully used to produce LDH materials with unique and desirable properties such as both a high density and large
surface area. These properties, rarely found together, are ideal for handling the product as a powder at large scale. This project aims to further develop this method to produce similar LDH materials and investigate their properties, evaluate the potential of other waste resources as starting materials for green LDH production and develop practical uses of these materials to make them increasingly attractive for industrial manufacturing.
This project falls within the EPSRC manufacturing the future and physical sciences research areas.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023828/1 01/04/2019 30/09/2027
2579643 Studentship EP/S023828/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Samuel Roberts