UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering


Surface barriers in nanoporous materials: Paper in Chem Soc Rev (RSC)

10 July 2023


A new review and perspective on "Surface barriers to mass transfer in nanoporous materials for catalysis and separations" has been published in Chemical Society Review (Royal Society of Chemistry). The review can be accessed here.

When optimising hierarchically structured zeolites or other nanoporous materials for catalysis or separations, finer (even nanosized) particles or films are used to increase mass transfer. However, by doing so, the external or internal interfaces may become "surface barriers" that control the overall transport. This should be realised if high rates are aimed for, but, it may not necessarily be bad, as this gives a new handle to control selectivity in catalysis or separations -- think of cell membranes and skins in nature. This offers untapped opportunities for both fundamental work (theoretical understanding, simulations, new synthesis methods to control surface barriers) and practical applications (shifting product distributions for challenging reactions and membrane separations, integration of this concept for process intensification).

Congratulations to first author Shuman Xu, who has just completed her PhD work at Zhejiang University with Prof Dang-guo Cheng, co-advised by Prof Marc-Olivier Coppens at the Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering (CNIE), UCL Chemical Engineering, where Shuman was a visiting researcher, in collaboration with Dr Ke Zheng (Synfuels China and CNIE visiting researcher), Dr Cristian-Renato Boruntea (former CNIE researcher), Dr Guanghua Ye and Prof Xing-Gui Zhou (East China University of Science and Technology) and Prof Fengqiu Chen (ZJU).
Thanks for funding from EPSRC, CSC, and Synfuels China.