UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering


Hierarchically structured catalysts


Many processes employing porous catalysts are plagued by significant diffusion limitations, which reduce yields and selectivity toward the desired products. Additionally, as a catalyst is left on-stream, undesired by-products of the reactions, such as coke, may lead to pore blockage and catalyst deactivation. Hierarchically structured catalysts include a desired distribution of active sites, and a network of broad pores that allow more facile access of the active sites and mitigate catalyst deactivation.

We use theory-assisted design to guide the synthesis of hierarchically structured, nanoporous catalysts with desired chemical and geometrical structure at all scales – from active site to pellet – and superior activity, selectivity and stability against deactivation. We keep reactor engineering constraints and opportunities in mind in our optimization.

hierarchical catalyst

Current Researchers: Mohammad Alkhunaizi, Aleksandra Glowska

Past researchers: Tobias Weissenberger

Collaborators: Guanghua Ye, East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST)

Key Publications

  1. M.-O. Coppens, T.Weissenberger, Q. Zhang and G. Ye, 2020, Nature-inspired, computer-assisted optimization of hierarchically structured zeolites. Adv. Mat. Int. DOI: 10.1002/admi.202001409 [Link]
  2. S. M. Rao and M.-O. Coppens, 2012, Increasing Robustness against Deactivation of Nanoporous Catalysts by Introducing an Optimized Hierarchical Pore Network - Application to Hydrodemetalation, Chem. Eng. Sci., 83, 66. (Special Issue for MACKIE)
  3. S.M. Rao and M.-O. Coppens, 2010, Mitigating deactivation effects through rational design of hierarchically structured catalysts -- Application to hydrodemetalation", Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 49, 11087. (Special Issue for ISCRE 21). [Link]
  4. G. Wang and M.-O. Coppens, 2010, Rational design of hierarchically structured porous catalysts for autothermal reforming of methane", Chem. Eng. Sci., 65, 2344. [Link]