Research Group Information
The Inorganic Systems Engineering group has been founded by its chair Dr. Evgeny Pidko at ChemE@TU Delft in September 2017. In the ISE group we work towards developing and understanding various inorganic systems to be employed as catalysts, sensors and functional materials. In our research we combine theory and experiment to be able to tailor the properties and characteristics of the inorganic systems towards controlled response, catalytic reactivity, selectivity, and tuneable properties. To achieve this goal we develop new computational tools, which have the capacity to guide experimental design. In our studies we follow an interdisciplinary approach based on the intimate integration of chemical engineering, chemical theory, spectroscopy, and advanced synthetic methods. The key research areas of the ISE are applied computational chemistry, molecular catalysis, catalysis in confinement, and functional inorganic materials.
The catalysis research in ISE aims at contributing to the establishment of green and sustainable chemistry of the future. We employ defined catalyst sites confined in porous matrices such as zeolites and metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to enable highly selective and efficient transformation of renewable substrates to useful chemicals. We investigate how the chemical reactivity can be tailored using such effects as the active site cooperativity and confinement in nanopores to establish the desirable conversion path and maximize their efficiency (Catalysis in Confinement). Such reactions as methane upgrading, selective biomass valorisation, CO2 conversion and others are among the key research objects studied in our group. Current heterogeneous catalysts often show limited efficiency and typically suffer from low selectivity and thus consume a significant quantity of starting material. In our studies we investigate different reaction pathways leading to different products and especially how to control reactions to produce desirable and valuable products (Applied Computational Chemistry). Computational studies and experiments work together to find better catalysts and more efficient conversion paths.
A similar approach is used to develop the Molecular Catalysis focal area of the ISE-group. Here the research objects are molecularly-defined transition metal catalysts that we use as highly selective and active catalysts to enable more sustainable and green synthetic paths or as model systems helping us to understand complex heterogeneous catalysts. In particular, we develop new molecular catalysts to establish novel sustainable catalytic technologies for the reduction of carbon dioxide and biomass-derived ketones and esters. Reactions of this type are frequently applied in different branches of chemical industry and are notorious for producing large quantities of waste. While they are typically carried out using expensive and scarce noble metal catalysts, our research aims at developing new catalytic systems based on cheap, abundant and non-toxic first-row transition metals such as manganese and iron.