Current projects


“Operando” 3D Multiscale and Multi-technique Catalyst Probing

The goal of the MULTIPROBE project is to develop a new methodology for the in situ and operando characterization of catalysts based on a unique combination of transmission electron microscopy and X-rays techniques, including 3D and environmental TEM, EELS spectroscopy, macro- and micro-scale X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), and hyperspectral imaging. All these characterization tools have been already used individually for the analysis of the catalysts in working conditions, but their association on the study of a catalytic system in very similar conditions, with also a common methodology of data analysis and global conceptualization of the main findings, is unprecedented. Our approach is: i) multiscale, allowing to cover scales from mm to sub-nm, by combining averaged information deduced from the macroscopic study of different zones of the catalytic bed, to that obtained locally over the catalyst nano-grain, for elucidating the role of the structural speciation and spatial heterogeneities; ii) multi-selective, providing morphological, structural and spectroscopic information on the various elements present on the catalyst; iii) in situ, time resolved and operando, as the experiments will be performed under conditions of pressure, temperature and gas concentration which are representative of the catalytic processes, with quantitative information on the activity and the selectivity of the catalysts.
This combined methodology will be used to provide a complete insight on the evolution under realistic reaction conditions of promising catalysts for light olefin synthesis from CO2 and CO. The recently developed data analysis approaches based on machine learning methods will be used for the data analysis
From a general point of view, this combined multiscale, time-resolved and multiselective approach proposed by the three partners (IPCMS, SOLEIL, UCCS), as well as the strategy of data analysis, will provide a correlation between chemical descriptors in the course of reaction and catalytic activities, in order to propose a direct relation between the microstructural properties of the catalyst and its performances, and could be subsequently applied to the in-situ study of a wide range of catalytic materials for CO and CO2 hydrogenation.

SolarMethaChem (ANR Solar-Driven Chemistry)

Solar Light-Driven Processes for Methane Photochemical Conversion

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Direct conversion of methane into fuels and platform molecules has been for a long time a “holy grail” in chemistry. The high C-H bond energy, absence of functional groups and of the polarity result in a very low methane chemical reactivity.
The major goals of the SolarMethaChem are i) the nanoengineering of new efficient materials for efficient oxidative coupling of methane to ethane and higher hydrocarbons, ii) identification of the reaction mechanisms of methane coupling and iii) optimization of the photochemical reactor and operating conditions.
Three research groups in France (CNRS-UCCS), Finland (University of Helsinki) and Poland (Jerzy Haber Institute of Catalysis and Surface Chemistry PAS) with complementary expertise in catalysis, materials science and modeling will carry out the project. 

Psyche (Interrreg France-Walloinie-Vlaanderen)

" Production of basic chemicals from plastic waste for reuse in the chemical industry "

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The PSYCHE project aims at the production of base chemicals (olefins) starting from plastic waste which could be reused within the chemical industry. On the one hand, an innovative technology will be demonstrated for the gasification of different plastic waste streams. On the other hand, the catalytic transformation of the obtained syngas towards base chemicals via the Fischer-Tropsch process is envisioned

The overall objective of the project is to stimulate investment in and implementation of Power-to-X technologies by developing innovative direct and indirect conversion processes for the chemical industry towards higher TRL’s, while making use of renewable electricity and lowering the carbon footprint. With these technologies, valuable fuels and platform chemicals can be produced from renewable raw materials while decreasing costs and increasing flexibility. The aim is to develop at least two pilot demonstrators at TRL 6 – 7 and two bench scale pilot installations at TRL 4 with supporting feasibility evaluations, thereby lowering the risks of investment for companies, especially SME's, and positioning the 2 Seas region as an innovation leader in Power-to-X sustainable technologies.

E2C (Interreg 2 Seas)

" Electrons to high value Chemical products "

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NanoConfinement (I-SITE Université Lille NORD France)

Nanoconfinement for production of platform molecules from biosyngas with enhanced selectivity

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The bio-sourced platform molecules manufactured from biomass, used plastics and organic waste are supplying sustainable solutions for reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases and for growing energy demand. Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is a technology that converts renewable feedstocks via biosyngas (H2-CO) to liquid fuels and chemicals.

The present proposal, which will be performed jointly by the UCCS and UMET laboratories of Université de Lille, provides two different but complementary strategies for selective conversion of biosyngas to sustainable high octane gasoline and value-added light olefins by designing novel catalysts containing confined metal nanoclusters

The first strategy is based on the controlled confinement of active sites and consequent shape selectivity effects arising from positioning active metal nanoparticles within the porous structure of zeolites and carbon materials. The second strategy involves catalyst functionalization via incorporation of acidity and addition of promoters. A combination of catalytic tests under industrial conditions at the high throughput RealCat platform with advanced characterisation using a state-of-the-art FEI TITAN 3 THEMIS 300 transmission electron microscope and other imaging methods will provide new insights into the atomic scale structure-performance correlations, which have been unachievable so far. The methods for producing alternative fuels and olefins from renewable feedstocks will give substantial economic benefits andreduce greenhouse gas emission and dependence of France and Europe on imported and polluting sources of energy.

NANO4FUT (ANR-16-CE06-0013)

Synthesis of alternative fuels and platform molecules over nanoreactors

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The  demand for ultra-clean alternative fuels and chemicals produced from biomass has been rapidly growing around the world. The fundamental target of this research project deals with the design of novel nanoreactor systems with encapsulated metal nanoparticles and processes for the sustainable direct synthesis of fuels and chemicals from synthesis gas (CO + nH2) generated via gasification of biomass. The main method for biosyngas valorization is Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FT) which converts it into wide range of hydrocarbons.  Our approach here is directed on the development of smart catalysts on the basis of nanoreactors with encapsulated metal in order to sterically restrict the growth of the hydrocarbons in the limited volume for the direct selective synthesis of valuable products like diesel and olefins. The traditional way of the preparation of nanoreactors involves application of organic and inorganic matrixes with the diameter of the shell in the range 30 to 150 nm with mostly effect on the stability of metal nanoparticles. This project is focused on controlled synthesis of nanosized (5-15 nm) yolk-shell systems with encapsulated Co and Fe metal nanoparticles to control the reaction selectivity and chain length of the FT products. New methodologies on the basis of microemulsion and gas phase deposition will be used for the synthesis of nanoreactors with controlled parameters like size, porosity and thickness of the shell. This strategy will affect all parameters of the catalytic processes like the activity, selectivity and stability due to the high dispersion of metal, low interaction with support, effective use of the shell, restriction of the growth of hydrocarbons, effective interaction with promoters and suppression of the catalyst sintering. New 3D structured nanoreactor materials are expected to provide perspective catalysts for industrial implementation.