Research team

Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology (DuEL)

Expertise

- Benchmarking and testing of photocatalytic technology compared to available and coming technological solutions for removal of pollutants in the gas phase. - Application specific case study and feasibility study of air purification technologies, their scientific operating principle, technological performance, efficiency and effectivity.

Catalysis for CCU: valorisation of CO and CO2 by carbon capture and utilisation. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

In this scientific network we study how catalysis can support and improve carbon capture and utililisation. The different kinds of catalysis are studied: homogeneous, heterogeneous, plasma and photocatalysis.

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Covalent Organic Frameworks: Electrodes for Photoelectrocatalytic Conversion of Carbon Dioxide and VOCs into Ecofriendly Fuels. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

The two biggest challenges of the 21st century are: i) air pollution and global warming, and ii) seeking alternative energy sources. To address both these issues, we plan to combine air-treatment with generation of green energy/chemicals as end products, using solar power. In particular, we will focus on photoelectrocatalytic decomposition of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and CO2 to produce hydrogen and formic acid respectively. The efficiency of these reactions is limited with conventionally used aqueous phase with TiO2 or noble metal-based electrodes. We propose to overcome these issues by running a gas phase photoelectrocatalytic cell by metal-free, highly porous and electrochemically stable photoelectrodes. In that context, we will explore the possibility of using Covalent Organic Frameworks (COF) as photoelectrodes. Apart from their high surface area and tunable bandgap, the metal-free COFs are cheap and devoid of leaching. However, their low electrical conductivity presents a hurdle. Here, we will focus on enhancing the optical and electrical conductivity of COFs simultaneously by synthesizing highly conjugated COFs and growing them on carbon fibre cloth (CFC) as binder-free COF-CFC hybrid electrodes. Combining the expertise and facilities of COMOC (UGent) and DuEL groups (UAntwerpen), we plan to optimize the photoelectrochemical reactions with COF-based electrodes. Such optimizations will facilitate the future adoption of our work in a larger industrial setting.

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InSusChem - Consortium for Integrated Sustainable Chemistry Antwerp. 15/10/2020 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

This IOF consortium connects chemists, engineers, economic and environmental oriented researchers in an integrated team to maximize impact in key enabling sustainable chemical technologies, materials and reactors that are able to play a crucial role in a sustainable chemistry and economic transition to a circular, resource efficient and carbon neutral economy (part of the 2030 and 2050 goals in which Europe aims to lead). Innovative materials, renewable chemical feedstocks, new/alternative reactors, technologies and production methods are essential and central elements to achieve this goal. Due to their mutual interplay, a multidisciplinary, concerted effort is crucial to be successful. Furthermore, early on prediction and identification of strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats in life cycles, techno-economics and sustainability are key to allow sustainability by design and create effective knowledge-based decision-making and focus. The consortium focuses on sustainable chemical production through efficient and alternative energy use connected to circularity, new chemical pathways, technologies, reactors and materials, that allow the use of alternative feedstock and energy supply. These core technical aspects are supported by expertise in simulation, techno-economic and environmental impact assessment and uncertainty identification to accelerate technological development via knowledge-based design and early stage identified key research, needed for accelerated growth and maximum impact on sustainability. To achieve these goals, the consortium members are grouped in 4 interconnected valorisation programs focusing on key performance elements that thrive the chemical industry and technology: 1) renewable building blocks; 2) sustainable materials and materials for sustainable processes; 3) sustainable processes, efficiently using alternative renewable energy sources and/or circular chemical building blocks; 4) innovative reactors for sustainable processes. In addition, cross-cutting integrated enablers are present, providing expertise and essential support to the 4 valorisation programs through simulation, techno-economic and environmental impact assessment and uncertainty analysis.

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Photoelectrochemical abatement of methane waste with simultaneous energy recovery. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Methane has recently been under attention as the atmospheric methane concentration is increasing more rapidly than initially expected. As methane is the second largest contributor to the enhanced greenhouse effect, this increases the urge for sustainable methane mitigation strategies in contrast to the current handling of methane emissions (e.g. venting). In this project a sustainable methane mitigation strategy, namely photoelectrochemical (PEC) methane degradation, is presented, which has not been studied before. In a PEC cell both mineralization of methane (at the photo-anode) and hydrogen evolution (at the cathode) are combined in a single device that runs solely on (solar) light as the energy input. First, the PEC cell will be optimized by selecting the best performing photo-anode material using the knowledge attained at the Wuhan University of Technology (China), also studying less conventional materials, nanostructures and synthesis strategies. As methane-rich waste streams are often gas mixtures, the influence of different common chemical compounds will be investigated both on overall cell performance, as well as in-situ. Finally, the effect of different reaction conditions will also be studied, as these factors are known to strongly influence photodriven processes. In summary, this project will allow us to evaluate the promise of PEC-technology for energy-efficient abatement of methane waste, while providing valuable new insight into the reaction mechanisms.

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Infectious diseases & environmental health 01/06/2020 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

The multidisciplinary valorisation domain manager that coordinates the consortia related to infectious diseases and environmental health is responsible for the overall strategy and cooperation between the different PI's active in this broad research area. It is a senior profile who is strongly connected to industry and policy makers.

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    Sustainable chemistry & materials 04/05/2020 - 31/12/2026

    Abstract

    The multidisciplinary valorisation domain manager sustainable chemistry & materials is responsible for the coordination of the different IOF consortia active in this area. This senior profile oversees the different research competences and defines the long term strategy in cooperation with partners from industry, government and society.

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      Bringing nanoscience from the lab to society (NANOLAB). 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2025

      Abstract

      Nanomaterials play a key role in modern technology and society, because of their unique physical and chemical characteristics. The synthesis of nanomaterials is maturing but surprisingly little is known about the exact roles that different experimental parameters have in tuning their final properties. It is hereby of crucial importance to understand the connection between these properties and the (three-dimensional) structure or composition of nanomaterials. The proposed consortium will focus on the design and use of nanomaterials in fields as diverse as plasmonics, electrosensing, nanomagnetism and in applications such as art conservation, environment and sustainable energy. In all of these studies, the consortium will integrate (3D) quantitative transmission electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy with density functional calculations of the structural stability and optoelectronic properties as well as with accelerated molecular dynamics for chemical reactivity. The major challenge will be to link the different time and length scales of the complementary techniques in order to arrive at a complete understanding of the structure-functionality correlation. Through such knowledge, the design of nanostructures with desired functionalities and the incorporation of such structures in actual applications, such as e.g. highly selective sensing and air purification will become feasible. In addition, the techno-economic and environmental performance will be assessed to support the further development of those applications. Since the ultimate aim of this interdisciplinary consortium is to contribute to the societal impact of nanotechnology, the NanoLab will go beyond the study of simplified test materials and will focus on nanostructures for real-life, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly applications.

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      Open city. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2022

      Abstract

      This project studies standards and data collected by sensors in the context of an open city, in order to gather information, consolidate data and get insights for the application of these data in company specific cases by pilot projects and application of best practices. These best practices should lead to the adaptation of solutions for the realisation of the vision and positive impact of the open city.

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      Chair SDG transition 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2022

      Abstract

      The objectives of the SDG transition chair are: - development of a set of SDG indicators for provinces and local governments. - study and exploration of research competences for prioritising the SDG's in relation to the provincial policy - stakeholder assessment following the Hexagon issue prioritisation tool.

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      Dioxide to monoxide (D2M): innovative catalysis for CO2 to CO conversion (D2M). 01/01/2020 - 30/09/2021

      Abstract

      The aim of this project is to study, explore and develop various (catalytic) technologies for the production of CO as platform chemical via conversion of CO2. A technology assessment will subsequently be carried out to evaluate the potential of each technology, pinpointing promising strategies for further development and upscaling. Concrete objectives and criteria The efficiency/productivity of existing homogeneous catalytic systems for CO2 reduction to CO will be mapped out and evaluated to identify the most promising systems to achieve this reduction and to explore ways to improve its larger scale viability through detailed catalyst modification studies. The focus will be on cobalt and nickel systems containing N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) species as ligands. The goal of the heterogeneous catalytic conversion of CO2 to CO is to assess the potential of the oxidative propane dehydrogenation (OPD) reaction with CO2 as a soft oxidant. The main purpose here is to focus on and maximize CO2 reduction and CO formation via novel catalyst synthesis, surface engineering and investigation of catalyst support. In the field of electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to CO we aim to (1) develop metal-based electrodes (electrocatalysts integrated in gas diffusion electrodes) exhibiting enhanced stability, (2) to investigate a novel type of metal-free electrocatalyst that can tackle the current challenges witnessed in N-doped carbons and (3) to demonstrate the continuous production of CO from CO2 by the development of a prototype lab scale reactor including the best-performing electrocatalysts developed in this project Another goal of this project is providing a proof-of-concept for plasmonic enhanced CO2 conversion into CO in an energy-lean process involving only solar light at ambient pressure as energy input i.e. without external heating. The objective of the plasma catalytic route for CO production is to enhance the conversion and energy efficiency of CO2 conversion in different plasma reactor types, with major focus on Gliding Arc plasma and Nanosecond pulsed discharges (NPD) plasma reactors. The project also takes up the challenge to activate CO2 and bio-CH4 and turn them into CO by combining chemical looping processes, into which catalysis is integrated, mediated by multifunctional materials (combine different functionalities into one smartly engineered material) and/or spatial organization of materials in dynamically operated packed-bed reactors.

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      Artificial clathrates for safe storage, transport and delivery of hydrogen (ARCLATH). 01/01/2020 - 30/06/2021

      Abstract

      In this project a proof-of-concept will be delivered for hydrogen storage in clathrates, an estimation of the application potential and an interdisciplinary research consortium on clathrate research will be established. The feasibility of hydrogen storage in clathrate materials will be studied in technological and economical relevant conditions of temperature and pressure. The central research question is to synthesize and stabilize hydrogen clathrates by catalytic processes in order to develop a new hydrogen storage technology. The concrete aim is to achieve 5 wt% and 30 g/l storage of hydrogen by temperatures above 2C and pressures below 100 bar.

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      Centre for Advanced Process Technology for Urban Resource recovery (CAPTURE). 01/12/2019 - 30/11/2022

      Abstract

      CAPTURE is a platform where scientists, industrial partners and stakeholders meet to develop innovative solutions for efficient resource use and recovery. CAPTURE is organised along three pipelines: CO2-to-product, water "fit for use" and plastic to resource. The CO2-to-product pipeline develops CO2 capture and conversion technologies, by pooling expertise and infrastructure in catalysis, biotechnology, separation and process development from Ghent University, Universiteit Antwerpen and VITO. Via its business platform, member companies gain direct access to precompetitive research, and to leading researchers in CO2 capture and conversion. The CO2-to-product business platform emulates the successful R2T platform of the water "fit for use" pipeline.

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      Solar hydrogen production from seawater using stabilized plasmonic photocatalysts. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2021

      Abstract

      In 2012 international shipping emitted about 800 Mton CO2, 18.6 Mton NOx and 10.6 Mton SOx. It is expected that by 2050 these emissions will increase by 250% if no actions are taken. Therefore, scientific research for greener fuel alternatives is highly needed, and hydrogen has been identified as a promising candidate in that context. In this project, abundant seawater (rather than scarce pure water) will be split into hydrogen and oxygen gas using TiO2-based photocatalysts. The major drawback of TiO2 is the fact that it is only activated by ultraviolet (UV) light, corresponding to less than 5% of the incident solar spectrum on Earth. As a solution, the photocatalysts will be modified with ordered bimetallic gold-silver nanoparticles that strongly interact with sunlight. To ensure stability on the long term, even in the presence of a saline reaction environment, the plasmonic nanoparticles will be capped by a protective shell using wet-chemical synthesis techniques. The shell also acts as a spacer layer between the plasmonic cores that tunes the resulting interparticle distance and hot-spot formation. All structures will be thoroughly characterized down to the nanoscale, and action spectrum analysis will be performed in collaboration with Hokkaido University. Seawater splitting is only a very recently studied application. The use of plasmonic nanostructures in that regard is unprecedented, meaning the results from this project will move well beyond the state-of-the-art.

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      Solar active self-cleaning and air purifying coatings using plasmon embedded titania. 01/11/2019 - 30/10/2021

      Abstract

      Soot is considered to be the second-largest contributor to global excess radiative forcing after CO2 and deemed responsible for 7 million premature deaths annually according to WHO. We propose an efficient photocatalyst for soot degradation (with simultaneous NOx reduction), using solar light as energy input. Photocatalytic oxidation is often achieved with TiO2 as photo-active material. The main drawback of TiO2 is its large band gap, which limits the overall solar light response to the UV region of the spectrum. Plasmonic photocatalysis using noble metal nanoparticles (NPs) has emerged as a promising technology to expand the activity window of traditional photocatalysts to the entire UV-visible light region of the solar spectrum. In this project, gold and silver NPs will be merged to overcome their individual limitations and form stable bimetallic NPs with highly tuneable plasmonic properties over a wide wavelength range. These plasmonic NPs will be embedded in TiO2 coatings. The plasmonic enhancement of photocatalytic air purifying and selfcleaning coatings will be studied in the laboratory by FTIR spectroscopy, contact angle measurements, digital imaging analysis and action spectrum analysis, as well as through real-life validation experiments in different cities, that illustrate the relevance of this research to the broader audience and potential investors. The proposed technology will be developed from TRL 2/3 to 5 including a CEA and possible recycling options.

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      Scientific Chair 'Veiligheidswetenschappen'. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2022

      Abstract

      More than physical burdening Mensura strives towards a safe and healthy workplace for every employee. Together we will study and put a lot of efforts on work-out prevention. Dr. Gretel Schrijvers, general director of Mensura: "Employees should learn to work safely with machines, equipment and chemical products. Ergonomical work places and methodologies are also required. But is much more than physical burdening. Well-being at work also covers unacceptable behaviour, prevention of stress and re-integration of disabled employees. This chair on safety and security provides the students a multidisciplinary education and training in close relation to the work field.

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      Scientific Chair 'Geïntegreerde Veiligheid - Chemie en Life Sciences'. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2022

      Abstract

      Safety is our top priority The industrial federation of the chemical sector, essencia, is convinced that the safety professional of tomorrow has a broad education and training in order to handle the challenges of our current society. Frank Beckx: "Safety is an absolute top priority in chemistry and life sciences. Not only in industrial processes, but also in the broader sense concerning the chemical plant, transport of people, products and commodities or crisis management in case of incidents. This specialised training with a multidisciplinary approach on safety and security offers students a lot of job opportunities in international companies as well as SME's in the chemistry and life sciences sector.

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      Synergy of plasmonic structures, affinity elements and photosensitizers for electrosensing of pharmaceuticals 01/08/2018 - 31/07/2021

      Abstract

      The main objective of the PLASMON-ELECTROLIGHT project is to elaborate an efficient sensing strategy to measure pharmaceuticals. The detection technique will be developed from an original photoelectrochemical detection strategy that is boosted by advanced photosensitizers, plasmonic enhancement, and affinity recognition. The photoactive hybrid materials must be designed carefully through rational choice of photosensitizers and metallic nanostructures, theoretical modeling, and experimental correlations. Next, the materials will be combined with biorecognition elements and employed as photoelectrochemical sensor. Our objectives also include a better understanding of the mechanism for plasmonic enhancement of photosensitizers' activity, developing new photoreactive materials and better methods to tests them. This will contribute to different field of chemical sensing, material science, and energy conversion.

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      SDG Voice 2020. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2020

      Abstract

      We have created a SDG youth hub with and for students within the Belgian higher education system. It is a network of students in Flanders, Walloon and Brussels that engages in spreading the SDG's within the student community in order to achieve joint action in SDG's oriented solutions. The students are coached to facilitate the transition towards more sustainability in their own institute in research, education and valorisation. The international dimension will promote the exchange of best practices in innovation and sustainability and in innovation for sustainability.

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      Pilot project air treatment car parks Zuiderdokken 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2020

      Abstract

      The research group Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology (DuEL) of UAntwerpen will carry out research for MPA in the context of a pilot project of MPA in collaboration with QPark and MPA, whereby the Steendok and Kooldok car parks will be equipped with air purification installations with the best available air purification technology. The research group provides guidance in defining the objectives, the choice of the best available technology, the measurement, monitoring, follow-up, analysis and evaluation of the results in the short and long term.

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      Sustainable chemistry & materials. 01/01/2019 - 15/01/2020

      Abstract

      The multidisciplinary valorisation domain manager sustainable chemistry & materials is responsible for the coordination of the different IOF consortia active in this area. This senior profile oversees the different research competences and defines the long term strategy in cooperation with partners from industry, government and society.

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      Photoelectrochemical abatement of methane waste with simultaneous energy recovery. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

      Abstract

      Methane has recently been under attention as the atmospheric methane concentration is increasing more rapidly than initially expected. As methane is the second largest contributor to the enhanced greenhouse effect, this increases the urge for sustainable methane mitigation strategies in contrast to the current handling of methane emissions (e.g. venting). In this project a sustainable methane mitigation strategy, namely photoelectrochemical (PEC) methane degradation, is presented, which has not been studied before. In a PEC cell both mineralization of methane (at the photo-anode) and hydrogen evolution (at the cathode) are combined in a single device that runs solely on (solar) light as the energy input. First, the PEC cell will be optimized by selecting the best performing photo-anode material using the knowledge attained at the Wuhan University of Technology (China), also studying less conventional materials, nanostructures and synthesis strategies. As methane-rich waste streams are often gas mixtures, the influence of different common chemical compounds will be investigated both on overall cell performance, as well as in-situ. Finally, the effect of different reaction conditions will also be studied, as these factors are known to strongly influence photodriven processes. In summary, this project will allow us to evaluate the promise of PEC-technology for energy-efficient abatement of methane waste, while providing valuable new insight into the reaction mechanisms.

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      Project website

      Infectious diseases and environmental health 01/10/2018 - 03/06/2019

      Abstract

      The multidisciplinary valorisation domain manager that coordinates the consortia related to infectious diseases and environmental health is responsible for the overall strategy and cooperation between the different PI's active in this broad research area. It is a senior profile who is strongly connected to industry and policy makers.

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      Plasmon-enhanced photocatalytic self-cleaning coatings. 02/04/2018 - 30/09/2019

      Abstract

      The goal of this IOF-POC project is to develop a market viable self-cleaning coating. The self-cleaning effect relies on the concept of photocatalysis; an advanced oxidation technology that enables the degradation of organic pollutants with light as an energy input and a semiconductor (here TiO2) as the catalyst. The main challenge of the project is to significantly increase the light-efficiency of the coating, while keeping the coating as transparent and cost-effective as possible. After optimizing the coating parameters and evaluating its cost-effectiveness, the ultimate target is to develop several prototypes that demonstrate the applicability in the building sector (e.g. skyscraper windows), as solar panel cover plates, or self-cleaning fish tanks.

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      Clean air for children and other vulnerable groups. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2020

      Abstract

      The objective of this project is the study and development of innovative air purification technology based on plasma catalysis. The mitigation of outside air pollution in order to reduce indoor air pollution for vulnerable groups is aimed for. Several subobjectives are targeted: - Cooperation in research and development between the university and industrial partners on plasma catalysis as a sustainable air pollution technology. - Demonstration and analysis of the impact of this technology in real life environment. Impact assessment and sustainability assessment of plasma catalysis. - Active involvement of demand and offer sides by market oriented cooperation. This co-creation project with public and private partners in a market oriented innovation approach should reduce the impact of air pollution on health of the most vulnerable people in society,. This intensive, interregional cooperation between knowledge centres, private enterprises and public actors results in a demand oriented innovation cluster which at its turn results in more efficient use of resources and decreased impact of air pollution on the health of vulnerable groups in the neighbouring regions Flanders-The Netherlands.

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      Study on exhaust emissions of wood stoves and PM reducing technologies. 12/10/2017 - 30/11/2017

      Abstract

      The aim of this project is to study literature on the real life emissions of air pollutants of different wood stoves and pollutant reducing technologies. Toxic and carcinogenic pollutants as PM, CO and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), PCB's and dioxins are emitted upon burning wood. Also condensable gases as source of secondary pollutants, such as PM, are emitted. Wood burning in Flanders is claimed to be responsible for 35% of the total emission of PM, 40% of the emission of dioxins and 87% of the emission of PAH. The contribution of household activities to the total amount of air pollutants is claimed to be rising.

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      Energy from methane waste: catalyst selection, parameter study and in-situ investigation of a photo-electrochemical cell. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018

      Abstract

      Methane has recently been under attention as the atmospheric methane concentration is increasing more rapidly than initially expected. As methane is the second largest contributor to the enhanced greenhouse effect, this increases the urge for sustainable methane mitigation strategies in contrast to the current handling of methane emissions (e.g. venting). In this project a sustainable methane mitigation strategy, namely photo-electrochemical (PEC) methane degradation, is presented, which has not been studied before. In a PEC cell both mineralization of methane (at the photo-anode) and hydrogen evolution (at the cathode) are combined in a single device that runs solely on (solar) light as the energy input. First, the PEC cell will be optimized by selecting the best performing photo-anode material, also studying less conventional materials, nanostructures and synthesis strategies. As methane-rich waste streams are often gas mixtures, the influence of different common chemical compounds (O2, CO2, NOx, H2O, NH3) will be investigated both on overall cell performance, as well as in-situ. Finally, the effect of different reaction conditions (temperature, flow rate and light intensity) will also be studied, as these factors are known to strongly influence photo-driven processes. In summary, this project will allow us to evaluate the promise of PEC-technology for energy-efficient abatement of methane waste, while providing valuable new insight into the reaction mechanisms.

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      Innovative three-dimensional electron microscopy to boost the catalytic activity of core-shell nanostructures. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2020

      Abstract

      Electron tomography has evolved into a state-of-the-art technique to investigate the 3 dimensional structure of nanomaterials, also at the atomic scale. However, new developments in the field of nanotechnology drive the need for even more advanced quantitative characterization techniques in 3 dimensions that can be applied to complex (hetero-)nanostructures. Here, we will focus on hetero-metallic particles with electrocatalytic applications and hard-soft core-shell structures that are of interest in the field of photocatalysis. Although catalytic hetero-nanoparticles yield improved properties in comparison to their parent compounds, the underlying reasons for this optimized behaviour are still debated. Therefore, innovative 3 dimensional electron microscopy techniques are required to understand the connection between the structure, composition and catalytic properties. The combination of advanced aberration corrected electron microscopy and novel 3 dimensional reconstruction algorithms is envisaged as a groundbreaking new approach to quantify the structure AND the composition for any given nanomaterial. By combining these innovative experiments with activity and stability tests under relevant conditions we will be able to solve fundamental questions, which are of importance for both electro- and photocatalysis. Through these insights, we aim to boost the activity of catalytic nanostructures and we envisage that the outcome of our project will have major impact. For example, a fundamental understanding of the plasmonic behaviour will greatly improve the photocatalytic performance in sunlight and therefore lies at the base of better air purification technology. Our project will also enable a founded selection of catalysts in order to proceed towards an industrially applicable reaction such as the reduction of CO2 or the Oxidation Reduction Reaction.

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      The importance of climate control during ballast tank coating of merchant ships. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2018

      Abstract

      sacrificial anodes or impressed current, and/or by applying a coating. Painting steel is by far the most practical way to protect it. In order to obtain a long term coating, the paint has to be selected and applied in an appropriate manner (De Baere et al., 2014). A good application implicates amongst others appropriate climatological conditions. Neglecting the latter can influence the curing process of the paint, which leads to stress development in the coating and finally can result in cracking of the coating, delamination or blistering. Regulating bodies and cargo owners insist on a "GOOD" coating condition and thus demand attention towards climate conditions (temperature and humidity) during coating application. This involves a very high cost as it is expensive to paint blocks in a controlled manner, implicating the use of paint cells. This BOF project will investigate the importance of temperature and humidity and verify if this high cost is justified. First the importance of climate control is questioned. Next the importance of climate control is economically validated, which will be a continuation of the economic study that compares a ship with a long term ballast tank coating with an average performing coating.

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      Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) in ballast tanks of merchant ships controlled through a UV ballast water management system. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2018

      Abstract

      Over the past decades MIC or Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion was recognized as a separate corrosion form besides general corrosion, galvanic corrosion, crevice corrosion, pitting, intergranular corrosion, erosion corrosion and stress corrosion. Today MIC should be considered as an extra parameter, a biological element amplifying the abiotic electrochemical corrosion process. MIC refers to the influence of microorganisms on the kinetics of the corrosion processes of metals. This accelerated type of corrosion may not be associated with one specific organism but with a collection of bacteria co-existing at the same time at the same place forming a microbial consortium. The main type of bacteria generally associated with corrosion or iron or steel are sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB), Sulphur-oxidizing v-bacteria (SOB), iron-oxidizing/reducing bacteria (IOB/IRB), manganese oxidizing bacteria and bacteria secreting organic acids and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) or slime. The classical mechanisms for microbial influenced corrosion can be reviewed as follows: 1. Metabolic production of aggressive compounds 2. Oxygen concentration cell formation 3. Acceleration of anodic or cathodic reactions by depolarization effect 4. Hydrogen embrittlement (depolarization). Ballast water discharged by ships is generally identified as a major pathway for introducing species to new environments. The effects of the introduction of new species have in many areas of the world been devastating. The upcoming IMO ballast water management convention (2004) (maybe in force this year?) will try to call a hold to this explosive situation. Today, ships exchange their ballast water in the middle of the ocean but in the future, all ships will have to install a ballast water treatment system on board to rule out these organisms effectively. One of the possible techniques is to sterilize the ballast by means of UV light. The D-2 ballast water treatment system shall have an efficacy of; • not more than 10 viable organisms per m³ ≥50 micrometers in minimum dimension, and • not more than 10 viable organisms per milliliter < 50 micrometers in minimum dimension and ≥10 micrometers in minimum dimension. Indicator microbe concentrations shall not exceed: • toxicogenic vibrio cholerae: 1 colony forming unit (cfu) per 100 milliliter or 1 cfu per gram of zooplankton samples; • Escherichia coli: 250 cfu per 100 milliliter • Intestinal Enterococci: 100 cfu per 100 milliliter Bacteria are smaller than the organisms discussed above and technically are not taken into account when evaluating the efficiency of a D-2 ballast water management system. However, we think and expect, that by means of this experiment we will be able to prove that the bacteria causing MIC are killed or rendered infertile by a ballast water management systems using UV. If this is indeed the case UV ballast water treatment systems will stop or at least retard MIC. Four groups of bacteria involved in MIC will be cultivated in a standard Postgate "B" medium and diluted with seawater before being pumped through an experimental set-up consisting out of a glass tube spiraling around a UV lamp. The exposure time will be regulated by varying the transit time. The flow-through will be passed over a steel coupon, which will then be cultivated for several weeks in artificial, non-shaken conditions. Biofilm formation will be followed up. In a second similar set-up the glass tube will be coated with a titanium dioxide film. TiO2 will act as a catalyst on the UV radiation effect. If this can be established, it should be possible to reduce the exposure times and realize and economize a lot of energy in the future ballast water management systems. The "tour de force" of this experiment is that with one system, UV radiation of ballast water, two problems may be solved, MIC of ballast tanks and the carriage of invasive species via ballast water.

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      Direct electron detector for soft matter TEM. 01/05/2016 - 30/04/2020

      Abstract

      Modern materials are made to perform a certain task very well at a low (energy) cost of production. This drive towards more efficient materials has shifted the attention from making e.g. the strongest material to making a sufficiently strong material at an acceptable use of natural resources. Combining this trend in materials science with the nano revolution where properties of materials depend increasingly on their structure at the nanoscale, requires scientific instruments that study these so-called soft materials on the nanoscale. Typically, this is a task for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) offering a look inside materials down to the atomic structure. A drawback of TEM however is that this process can destroy soft materials while viewing, making the analysis unreliable or impossible. In order to overcome this issue, we propose to acquire a so-called direct electron detector which efficiently detects every electron that interacts with a given material reducing the required electron dose by up to a factor of 100. This considerably shifts the field of applicability of TEM into the range of soft materials allowing us to resolve their structure down to the atomic level.

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      Outdoor air quality monitoring in Morocco and purification processes. 13/03/2016 - 31/12/2017

      Abstract

      This study consists of the development of an early warning and monitoring system for air pollution in Morocco based on remote sensing techniques and modelling. Additionally, we will study the possibilities of photocatalysis and plasma catalysis to abate the pollutants by using our combined modelling and remote sensing expertise. Apart from the actual research activities (described in detail below), there is also an important training part. This will be done, amongst others, by Master students of Morocco who will come to Belgium as exchange students. Students from Master in Science (4 per year) will work under their Master's degree final project on several defined tasks, and will be supervised by the investigators. Short visits for training at the University of Antwerp, Dept. Bioscience Engineering will be planned. Two workshops for faculty members, researchers and stakehold-ers will also be scheduled and research papers will be published. The supervised Master's students will serve as the foundation of building a lasting tradition of joint supervision where the advisor will be from Morocco and the co-advisor can be from the University of Antwerp. The principal investigators will exchange visits in the context of this project and supervising the degree of the students. This project will allow both teams and Master students to work on a challenging project that attract high national and international interest.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Measurements in the framework of the pre-normative research "Sustainability of photocatalytic cement-based building materials. 01/02/2016 - 31/12/2016

      Abstract

      This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      BIOCAPPS: Biogenic catalyst applications. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2017

      Abstract

      Porous silica structures of diatoms can be considered as high-grade, easy-to-extract products around which companies and research institutes can develop products. The general purpose of this project is to demonstrate that: (i)Sustainable production of silica with algae (diatoms) on an industrial scale is feasible; (ii) Modification of biogenic silica with titanium via biological or chemical routes can lead to an increase of the valorization potential of these materials; (iii) The development of diverse, (nano)technology applications based on algal silica.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Photocatalytic gas scrubber as innovative air purification technology. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2016

      Abstract

      Air pollution is one of the problems that has attracted specific attention since the start of the 21st century. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), originating from furniture or building materials amongst others, are an important class of pollutants and the concentration indoors are often several times higher than outdoors. The main goal is the complete mineralization of VOCs based on a photocatalytic oxidation process which can be carried out under mild reaction conditions (low pressure and temperature). The methodology that will be used is to transfer the VOCs from the gas phase to the aqueous phase by means of a scrubber to ensure an efficient photocatalytic degradation under UV light. The light efficiency will be optimized based on two different methods. The first method is via modification of standard TiO2 with plasmonic silver nanostructures. These nanostructures display surface plasmon resonance (SPR) in the UV part of the spectrum, which entails a significant electric near-field enhancement. The build-up of these intense local electric fields allows an efficient concentration of the incident photon energy in small volumes near the nanostructures. Since the rate of electron-hole pair formation is proportional to the intensity of the electric field, a drastic increase in charge carrier formation occurs. In order for this plasmonic "lens effect" to work, an energy match between the bandgap energy of the semiconductor and the energy associated with the SPR is required, which is the case for silver nanostructures. A second method to increase the UV light efficiency is by means of an innovative reactor design. A scrubber will be used to transfer the contaminated air flow to the aqueous phase leading to an enrichment of the VOCs in the aqueous phase. After that, the VOCs will be photocatalytically degraded in the aqueous phase, which is a better known concept than degradation in gas phase. The VOC degradation will occur via an optimized reactor design in which a UV transparent capillary tube is coated on the inside with photoactive material. This tube will be winded around a UV light source. In this way, there is a large contact time between pollutant and catalyst. Furthermore, this design ensures an active washing of the catalyst surface avoiding possible deactivation of the catalyst.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Implication of biomagnetic monitoring in urban air quality assessments: composition and health relevance of the magnetisable particulate matter fraction. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2018

      Abstract

      Air pollution is now the world's largest single environmental health risk. Nevertheless, current air quality networks obtain poor spatial monitoring resolution due to high investment and maintenance costs. Especially in heterogeneous urban environments, spatial monitoring resolution is generally too limited. Biomagnetic monitoring of roadside plant leaves presents a promising monitoring approach to capture spatio-temporal variation of air pollution. Throughout my PhD, I evaluated biomagnetic monitoring (SIRM) of leaf-deposited particles for both air quality monitoring and modelling purposes, on both spatial and temporal resolutions. Nevertheless, lack of information on magnetisable composition and health-relevancy of magnetic minerals in atmospheric particles impedes the general application of biomagnetic monitoring in environmental air quality assessments. Our research project aims to address this knowledge gap by evaluating the magnetisable composition of urban atmospheric particles, its potential for source attribution in urban areas, and the health-relevancy of biomagnetic properties. While the magnetic mineralogy, grain size and concentration will reflect PM source-contributions, associations with heavy metals and/or elemental carbon might emphasize biomagnetic monitoring as a novel health-related PM proxy. The acquired knowledge will be implemented in two largescale and parallel biomagnetic monitoring campaigns in Antwerp (Belgium) and London (UK).

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Design and optimization of a photocatalytic reactor for sustainable air purification in ventilation systems 01/07/2015 - 30/06/2019

      Abstract

      The general objective of this project is the design and development of a photocatalytic reactor for HVAC systems for the removal of VOC's. Hereby a significant improvement of the energy consumption as compared to conventional systems is aimed at.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Thermophilic consortia for nitrogen removal: transposition from natural resources to biotechnology. 01/02/2015 - 30/09/2015

      Abstract

      This is a fundamental research project financed by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). The project was subsidized after selection by the FWO-expert panel. This study focusses on the removal of harmful ammonium from polluted water by converting it to harmless nitrogen gas, which is released to the atmosphere. Opposed to the established mesophilic temperature conditions, biotechnology at thermophilic temperatures is hypothesized to have several advantages: higher stability, faster reactions, lower sludge production and better hygienization.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      ENVIROMICS, environment toxicology and technology for a durable world. Development and application of diagnostic instruments for industry and policy. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2020

      Abstract

      Environmental toxicology (named ecotoxicology further on) is by name a multidisciplinary field involving a wide span of scientifical domains These domains cover areas as biology (and several sub-disciplines thereof), ecology, biochemistry, toxicology, molecular genetics, industrial and process chemistry etc On top of that it touches the sociological field in terms of human and environmental hazard and risk, and even economy by setting environmental standards, thereby directly influencing industrial processes Water treatment technology and risk assessment are both important answers and tools offered to problems put forward by ecotoxicology Both offer and raise questions and problems to be answered It is my believe that ecotoxicology, in its broadest sense, holds the mother key in the solution but has yet to fully gain it.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Analysis of the weldability of an experimental corrosion resistant steel quality for the use in ballast tanks of merchant vessels 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2016

      Abstract

      Corrosion in ballast tanks is a huge problem. Traditionally, coatings and sacrificial anodes are used to prevent corrosion. The use of corrosion resistant steel (CRS) might offer an acceptable alternative, if the construction with this steel type is possible using the currently accepted techniques and methods at ship construction yards. This project will determine whether the weldability of CRS is similar and equivalent to that of ordinary Grade A ship construction steel.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Sunlight-driven photo-electrochemical hydrogen production from air contaminated with volatile organic compounds. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2017

      Abstract

      Today's society has to cope with two persistent demands: sustainable energy production and a clean, healthy environment. This project aims at addressing both issues simultaneously in a single device. Air contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOC) is administered to the photoanode compartment of a photo-electrochemical (PEC) cell. The photo-anode consists of a photocatalyst (TiO2) that mineralizes those VOCs under illumination. Protons formed during photoreaction diffuse through a solid electrolyte membrane towards the cathode side of the PEC cell. At the cathode protons are reduced with photogenerated electrons that are externally conducted from anode to cathode and hydrogen fuel is recovered. A big challenge of the proposed concept is to make the photo-anode visible light active. Photocatalysts such as TiO2 are activated only by UV light, which represents but 5% of the solar spectrum. In this project the photo-anode will be modified with unconventional and ffordable 'plasmonic' metal nanostructures with photoresponse tuned to the solar spectrum. They are expected to boost the PEC cell's efficiency by expanding the activity window of the photo-anode towards visible light or by improving the performance in the available wavelength range. Physico-chemical characterization, theoretical simulations of the light-matter interaction and actual PEC cell performance tests will lead to fundamental understanding and efficiency improvement of this sunlight-driven process.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Plasmon activated photocatalysts for soot degradation. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2017

      Abstract

      Current soot concentrations in the atmosphere keep posing a considerable threat to human health and environment. Therefore, new strategies are necessary to alleviate the damaging impact of soot emissions. In this regard, photocatalysis is a very promising technology. Although photocatalytic soot degradation has already been demonstrated under UV-light, it would be much more interesting to have photocatalytic activity under visible light. The goal of this research is therefore to prepare a visible light active titanium dioxide (TiO2) photocatalyst to be used towards soot degradation. In order to achieve this goal the TiO2 photocatalyst is modified with plasmonic noble metal alloy nanoparticles.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Fundamental study of plasmonic-enhanced photocatalysis through model systems of noble metals and TiO2 fabricated using atomic layer deposition. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2017

      Abstract

      The objective of this project is to synthesize model photoactive materials with increasing sophistication and to perform advanced characterization, numerical modelling and photocatalytic activity mapping in order to uncover the mechanism of SPR-enhanced photocatalysis. To this aim intricate semiconductor/metal composite structures with stepwise increasing sophistication and dimensionality will be synthesized using ALD of TiO2 and noble metals onto flat surfaces and 3D mesoporous matrices.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Feasibility study of energy and carbon fluxes in horticulture and industrial zones of the province of Antwerp. 01/01/2014 - 30/09/2014

      Abstract

      This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand POM. UA provides POM research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Plasma assisted catalysis as a sustainable indoor air purification technology. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2016

      Abstract

      The quality of outdoor air is a much discussed topic in media and politics, while indoor air quality (IAQ) is often overlooked. Despite the fact that people spend the largest fraction of their time (85%) indoors, poor IAQ is still an underestimated problem. In fact, indoor air is often of worse quality than outdoor air. So it is definitely time to focus on indoor air quality as well. This research deals with air purification with specific focus on the development of a sustainable indoor air purification technology. Air purification technology on the market is commonly based on electrostatic precipitation (ESP) with corona discharge as plasma source. This technique has, however, some disadvantages. For example, formation of by-products (e.g. ozone) that are powerful oxidants; displacement instead of degradation of the pollutants to another phase and occurrence of irreversible deposition on the collector electrode. The latter results in a decline of the efficiency of the ESP. Implementing a photocatalytic nano-coating offers an innovative and sustainable solution to eliminate these drawbacks. This solution includes several different opportunities: For one, the nano-coating ensures the conversion of harmful intermediates and end-products to harmless products. Secondly, due to the photocatalytic activity complete mineralisation of the pollutants can be achieved. Furthermore, the occurrence of irreversible deposition and, consequently the additional wash step, is avoided. The aim of this project is thus to develop an integrated air purification technology, using electrostatic precipitation and photocatalytic degradation of trapped particles, also called plasma assisted catalysis. The research itself is divided into three work packages. First, it is needed to study the decomposition processes in plasma of individual pollutants like formaldehyde and particulate matter (PM). These experiments will be conducted in an electrostatic precipitator on lab scale. After studying the individual pollutants, the abatement of a realistic indoor air composition, for example environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), will be investigated as well. During the second phase, a selected photocatalytic nano-coating will be optimised. This optimisation is done in function of the maximum photocatalytic activity in the gas phase. It is, however, very important that other properties, necessary for the implementation in a plasma assisted catalysis set-up, are also investigated. These features include excellent adhesion on the substrate, good conductivity, optimal amount of deposited material, large specific surface area, open porosity and the required crystal structure. This work package results in a sustainable coating that has all the specific requirements needed to work in a plasma reactor. The third phase of this project includes the same experiments as performed in the first phase but this time with a coating applied on the collector electrode. Comparing the decomposition processes with and without coating enables to determine the influence of the coating on the working of the ESP. Hence, the synergetic effect of the plasma assisted catalytic system will be investigated. The coating can be further improved after obtaining the results of this phase. Obviously, the three different work packages are in close collaboration with each other.

      Researcher(s)

      • Promotor: Lenaerts Silvia
      • Co-promotor: Hauchecorne Birger
      • Fellow: Van Wesenbeeck Karen

      Research team(s)

      Noble metal nanoparticle antenna based plasmonics to improve photocatalysis. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

      Abstract

      Millions of people are currently suffering from the consequences of poor indoor air quality. Photocatalysis is a promising approach to remove harmful components from the air. The bottleneck thus far is the low efficiency of the photocatalytic reactions. A big step forward can be achieved by light harvesting antenna systems based on metal nanoparticles. They capture light of lower energy (in the visible light region) and with a higher efficiency. Photocatalytic ceramic foams with nanoparticle antennas are synthesized, characterized and tested towards their air purification properties.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Bio-template silica titania diatoms for gas phase photocatalysis. 01/07/2012 - 30/06/2016

      Abstract

      Air pollution is of growing social and economical concern in densely populated regions as Flanders. A promising air purification technology is photocatalysis that only uses light to convert harmfull pollutants to harmless components as CO2 and H20. Photocatalysts, frequently based on titanium dioxide, exhibit several drawbacks: (1) environmentally burdening production process, (2) insufficient immobilisation of the nanoparticles, (3) insufficient activity. Immobilisation of titanium dioxide by metabolic incorporation in the diatom silica skeleton can provide a proper solution for the aforementioned problems. In this process titanium dioxide is incorporated in the silica skeleton of the diatom during cell division. Diatoms are single-celled eukaryotic microalgae that form intricate, self-assembled porous silica cell walls, called frustules. These diatom frustules are composed of hydrated silica with specific 3D morphologies, micro- meso or macroporosity and have typically high surface area (10-250 m2/g). In this project two subspecies of diatoms are used, the salt water algae Pinnularia sp.and the acidophilic algae Eunotia sp. This study provides sustainable, well immobilised and highly porous biosilica titania materials that are promising for photocatalytic air purifcation. The expertise on the growing of algae and the incorporation of metal atoms is present in the research group Ecophysiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology (EBT) of the department of Biology. The titanium content of the frustules should be as high as possible in order to obtain photocatalytically active materials. Two new strategies to increase the amount of titanium available for metabolic incorporation are appied. On one hand we will use acidophilic diatoms that can grow at very low pH, on the other hand titanium complexes are studied. The resulting mesoporous biosilica titania complexed are analysed for their titanium dioxide content (ICP-MS) and the location of the titanium dioxide deposition (STEM-EDS). After thermal annealing at high temperatures (400-900°C) the crystallinity (XRD), surface area (BET isotherms), pore distribution (BJH method) and optical properties (UV-VIS spectroscopy) are studied for those materials with sufficient titanium dioxide content. The biotemplate structures are tested for their photocatalytic degradation perfomance towards several common air pollutants (NOx, ethylene, acetaldehyde) in the gas phase. Expertise on real time in-situ study of photocatalysts in operating conditions is present in the research group Sustainable Energy and Air Purification (DuEL) of the department of Bio-science Engineering. This research project results in an optimized bio-template production process for mesoporous silica-titania photocatalysts as a base for an efficient, sustainable, economically and ecologically viable air purification process.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Development and application of future studies methodologies for industrial activities. 01/03/2012 - 29/02/2016

      Abstract

      The objective of this research project is: - to develop methodologies for future studies in order to achieve a sustainable industrial production. - to apply the developed methodologies to specific industrial production processes.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Research of the corrosion resistance of experimental steel alloys in a seawater environment for the construction of ballast tanks on board of merchant navy vessels 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2013

      Abstract

      The degree of corrosion in ballast tanks on board of merchant navy vessels is very variable and influenced by the chemical composition and crystal structure of the alloy used. This project will determine in an experimental way the differences between the steel alloys used on board and some experimental steel compositions. The conclusions will be used for the development of a new steel alloy that is more resistant to the aggressive seawater environment in ballast tanks. The project is build on fysico-chemical measurements and automated image evaluation of the microscopic structures.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Optimization of photocatalytic materials for the removal of NOx and VOC. 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2013

      Abstract

      This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Research and development of Au/TiO2 foams for removal of NOx and VOCs from ambient air. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2012

      Abstract

      The aim of this project is the removal of NOx and VOC in ambient air by an integrated air purification system with based on photocatalysis. During the project the main objective will be the development of a ceramic photocatalytic foam. Furthermore there will be Au deposition to enhance the photocatalytic activity. The whole project is taken as a process approach involving scientific/technological and socio/economical aspects.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Efficient and sustainable air purification technology: implementation of a (photo)catalytic nano coating in an electrostatic precipitator. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2011

      Abstract

      When using electrostatic precipitation for air purification, ozone formation and irreversible deposition on the electrode result in the decline of the removal efficiency. A (photo)catalytic nano coating provides a substantial efficiency and sustainability improvement by the conversion of harmful pollutants and byproducts into harmless substances and by the avoidance of additional washing or pollutant removal steps.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Noble metal nanoparticle antenna based plasmonics to improve photocatalysis. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2012

      Abstract

      Millions of people are currently suffering from the consequences of poor indoor air quality. Photocatalysis is a promising approach to remove harmful components from the air. The bottleneck thus far is the low efficiency of the photocatalytic reactions. A big step forward can be achieved by light harvesting antenna systems based on metal nanoparticles. They capture light of lower energy (in the visible light region) and with a higher efficiency. Photocatalytic ceramic foams with nanoparticle antennas are synthesized, characterized and tested towards their air purification properties.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Biofouling in submerged membrane bioreactors. 01/10/2010 - 14/09/2011

      Abstract

      In this research project the complex causes and mechanisms of fouling in membrane bioreactors will be investigated. For this purpose a new fouling measurement method will be developed which allows to distinguish between reversible (can be removed by mechanical cleaning) and irreversible fouling (can only be removed by chemical cleaning). The system will be used to detect relationships between operational parameters and (ir)reversible fouling. Furthermore, it will be applied as an online sensor in an advanced control system, enabling the continuous adjustment of membrane cleaning facilities to the measured reversible and irreversible fouling propensity.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      The active site: from catalysis to reactor. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2019

      Abstract

      The project involves a collaboration between chemists and chemical engineers in the field of heterogeneous catalysis. The aim is to characterize and to fully understand the active site of the catalyst on the atomic level, in order to build catalysts with improved properties in a reactor in the chemical industry.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Follow-up study of chemical, microbial and metallurgic factors affecting the corrosion in ballast tanks on board of merchant navy vessels 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

      Abstract

      Corrosion in ballast tanks is a very specific issue, influenced by numerous circumstances. As a consequence, many types of corrosion exist, each having its own influences and mechanisms. The project is divided in 3 work packages. First, on board sampling will be done. Chemical parameters and metallurgic characteristics of the ships will be identified. Based thereupon, a set of hypotheses regarding the cause of corrosion will be constructed, with the help of multivariate statistics. These will then be tested in an experimental setup.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Fundamental study of an integrated NOx and particulate matter photocatalytic removal process. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2010

      Abstract

      Emissions of diesel engines contain harmful pollutants like particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the research group for Sustainable Energy and Air Purification (University of Antwerp), ceramic photocatalytic foams are studied which can trap PM and allow simultaneously the catalytic removal of PM and NOx. The required energy for the catalytic process is accomplished by illumination. The main objective of this PhD is to study the reaction mechanisms occurring on photocatalytic titanium dioxide materials during the integrated removal of NOx and PM. A deeper insight in the ongoing reactions is important to achieve a real breakthrough in photocatalytic removal processes. The fundamental knowledge will help to improve materials and optimise reaction conditions.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Upgrading and purification of gaseous waste flows by coupling of an advanced catalytic system and an algal bioreactor. 01/09/2009 - 31/08/2013

      Abstract

      The removal of gaseous CO2-, waste-, side-, or rest flows can be addressed with algal bioreactors aiming at CO2 sequestration on the one hand and biomass and oil production on the other. However, the impurities and their impact on the algae are an important bottleneck. This project aims at combining an advanced (photo-) catalytic system with an algal bioreactor in order to contribute to an orchestrated approach. The advanced (photo-) catalytic system is used for the characterisation and the catalytic destruction of the gas flow in the process by the production of water and carbon dioxide. The cleaned and optimised carbon dioxide flow is fed to the algal bioreactor. It is foreseen that this combination results in improved overall yield and quality of the end-products.

      Researcher(s)

      • Promotor: Lenaerts Silvia
      • Co-principal investigator: Heerwegh Kristel
      • Co-promotor: Horvath Joeri
      • Fellow: Vinken Katrien

      Research team(s)

      Research and development of Au/TiO2 foams for removal of NOx and VOCs from ambient air. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2010

      Abstract

      The aim of this project is the removal of NOx and VOC in ambient air by an integrated air purification system with based on photocatalysis. During the project the main objective will be the development of a ceramic photocatalytic foam. Furthermore there will be Au deposition to enhance the photocatalytic activity. The whole project is taken as a process approach involving scientific/technological and socio/economical aspects.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Biofouling in submerged membrane bioreactors. 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2010

      Abstract

      In this research project the complex causes and mechanisms of fouling in membrane bioreactors will be investigated. For this purpose a new fouling measurement method will be developed which allows to distinguish between reversible (can be removed by mechanical cleaning) and irreversible fouling (can only be removed by chemical cleaning). The system will be used to detect relationships between operational parameters and (ir)reversible fouling. Furthermore, it will be applied as an online sensor in an advanced control system, enabling the continuous adjustment of membrane cleaning facilities to the measured reversible and irreversible fouling propensity.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Study of chemical and microbial factors affecting the corrosion in ballast tanks on board of merchant navy vessels. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2009

      Abstract

      Corrosion in ballast tanks is a very specific issue, influenced by numerous circumstances. As a consequence, many types of corrosion exist, each having its own influences and mechanisms. The project is divided in 3 work packages. Te first package intends to formulate a protocol for survey, a data form and a do it yourself kit for sampling. During the second package, on board sampling will be done. Chemical parameters and microbiological consortia will be identified. The third package tends to formulate a hypothesis regarding the cause of corrosion with the help of multivariate statistics.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Computational Fluid Dynamics for modelling the dispersion of nanoparticles. 01/10/2007 - 31/08/2011

      Abstract

      This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand a private institution. UA provides the private institution research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)

      Start-up of a new research activity for the physico-chemical treatment of flue gases and follow-up of the gas cleaning process by means of gas sensors. 01/03/2006 - 31/12/2007

      Abstract

      This project concerns the start-up of a new research line for the physico-chemical treatment of flue gases and process monitoring by means of gas sensors. A flow-through reactor is built for the characterization of adsorption and catalytic properties of metal oxide materials. Objective is the removal of harmful components from flue and off-gases. These measurements are the basis for more in-dept basic research on the working principle of nano structured metal oxide materials (TiO2, SnO2, ZnO, V2O5) used as sorbent, as catalyst or as gas sensor.

      Researcher(s)

      Research team(s)