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Nanocarbon and Metal Aerogels as Multifunctional, Porous Support Materials in Adsorption and Catalysis

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Directed self-assembly of carbon nanostructures and metal nanoparticles into porous 3D structures, provides unique opportunities to fabricate monolithic, highly-porous materials, such as aerogels, with well-controlled properties (e.g. microstructure, porosity, mechanical robustness, electro-thermal conductivity). Here, we explore polymer-assisted nano-structure assembly (carbon nanotubes, graphene oxide, metal nanoparticles), based on hydrothermal methods, emulsion-templating and templating on sacrificial hard templates, to produce nanocarbon and metal aerogels with fundamentally different microstructures. Different chemical methodologies (e.g. in-situ precipitation, sublimation-deposition) are explored to decorate the aerogel frameworks with catalyst and adsorbent nanoparticles (anionic clays, h-BN) in a uniform and consistent fashion. Supporting these functional nanoparticles within the structured aerogel frameworks results in significant improvements in their activity, kinetics and regenerability in important adsorption applications (adsorptive desulfurisation of hydrocarbons, CO2 capture)1,2 as well as in heterogeneous catalysis.3 In order to exploit the benefits of these aerogels further, the electrical conductivity of the cross-linked frameworks is utilised for direct resistive heating, enabling energy-efficient and very fast temperature control and rapid thermal regeneration of spent adsorbents and catalysts.4

This talk is part of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Flows (IEEF) series.

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