Hierarchical Transport Networks
In this project, the Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering will design, construct and test a lung-inspired fuel cell with globally optimized, hierarchical structure from nanomaterial to device level.
Many processes employing porous catalysts have significant diffusion limitations, 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.
Computational studies of water and ion transport through protein channels in cell membranes teach us the fundamental principles behind the combination of remarkably high permeation and selectivity of these biological membranes. We aim to build artificial nanoporous membranes for water desalination, purification, and other relevant separation processes, that implement the fundamental principles that lead to the superior performance of biological membranes.
Inspired by the nano-confinement effects induced by chaperones and other biological nanopores on biological guest molecules, we design and synthesize optimized nanoporous materials as hosts for enzymes, for catalytic or therapeutic applications. These materials are designed with ideal geometrical and chemical surface properties that impart aspects of the desired force balancing witnessed in biological systems.
The local environment of a catalyst’s active site plays a critical role in determining the catalyst’s activity and selectivity. We study the effect of chemical and geometrical heterogeneity on transport in nanoporous materials, and employ this in catalyst design. We also research nano-confinement effects induced by local curvature, as witnessed in biological systems, and utilize this in the design of supported homogeneous or nanoparticle-based catalysts with improved activity, selectivity and stability.
This project aims to study self-organising materials that are able to adapt their structure and associated properties in response to a changing environment. Inspired by the organization of bacterial communities, we aim to develop self-organising, adaptive and self-healing materials that can be further used, for instance, in sensing or drug delivery.
Experimental measurements on periodically pulsed gas-solid fluidized beds have shown that a periodic gas flow could induce the formation of regular patterns in gas-solid fluidized beds, which normally display chaotic bubble hydrodynamics. In this project, we aim to understand the origin of pattern formation in pulsed fluidized beds by combining experiments, theory and multi-scale simulations.