Pascal specializes in designing, manufacturing, characterizing and validating optical materials, coatings and films that interact in distinct ways with sunlight. The materials are mainly used in the photochemical and photoelectrochemical production of chemicals and fuels, as well as for regulating sunlight transmission through windows and for improving the efficiency and aesthetics of integrated solar panels in buildings.
The gastprofessoraat ‘Nanostructured Materials’ is positioned at Hasselt University (UHasselt) in the Faculty of Sciences, Department of Chemistry and the Institute for Materials Research (imo-imomec). The gastprofessoraat is hosted by the research group Inorganic and Physical Chemistry (IPC), which is headed by prof. dr. M. K. Van Bael and prof. dr. A. Hardy. This research group is experienced in the design, synthesis and characterization of advanced inorganic materials and coatings, mostly metal oxides. The gastprofessoraat ‘Nanostructured Materials’ bridges the expertise in design, synthesis and characterization of advanced inorganic materials and coatings, to two areas of application which are of strategic interest for TNO and Brightlands Materials Center: sunlight-fueled sustainable chemical processes, and building envelope materials for sustainable buildings. In the field of sunlight-fueled chemistry, the primary focus is on the design of inorganic catalysts for photohydrogenation of CO2 to C1-chemicals and fuels like CH4 and CO. This field of research can be successfully exploited through coupling of the expertise in preparation of inorganic materials at UHasselt to the expertise in catalysis and plasmonics available from prof. Buskens, supported by further competences and infrastructure available from the TNO departments Materials Solutions (Eindhoven/Geleen) and Optics (Delft). The focus of this research is the elucidation of the reaction mechanism and underlying physical principles of plasmon catalytic chemical conversions. This knowledge can then be applied by TNO for rational optimization of sunlight-fueled chemical processes. In the field of building envelope materials for sustainable buildings, the primary focus is on materials and coatings that provide advanced solar control functionalities to architectural glazing units, and materials and coatings for improving the optical efficiency and/or aesthetics of building-integrated photovoltaic modules. This field of research can be successfully exploited through coupling of the expertise in preparation and in-depth characterization of inorganic materials at UHasselt and the expertise in functional coatings and nano-pigmented polymer films available from prof. Buskens. This is supported by further competences and infrastructure available from the TNO departments Materials Solutions (Eindhoven/Geleen) and Optics (Delft). Multiple products/functionalities are part of this research line, with as current prototypical example thermochromic coatings for solar control glazing, addressing following key research questions: (A) How can dopants effectively be integrated in thermochromic VO2 crystals, to lower the switching temperature from 68°C to 20-30°C with minimum negative impact on the solar modulation? (B) Which balance between transmission in the visible and solar modulation behaviour is achievable for nanoporous thermochromic VO2 coatings on glass, which are produced through packing of VO2 nanoparticles? This knowledge can be applied by TNO and Brightlands Materials Center for rational optimization of solar control windows for architectural glazing. My research contributes closely to the TNO roadmap ‘Sustainable Chemical Industry’ and Brightlands Materials Center.
SiO2- and Al2O3-supported Ru nanocatalysts facilitate selective conversion of green hydrogen and CO2 to artificial natural gas (CH4) at low temperature and with high productivity, using sunlight as sole and sustainable energy source for driving this chemical process. TiO2-supported Au nanocatalysts facilitate selective conversion of green hydrogen and CO2 to CO at low temperature and with high productivity, using sunlight as sole and sustainable energy source for driving this chemical process. Photothermal contributions play an important role in sunlight-powered chemical processes catalysed by (plasmonic) metal nanoparticles. Illuminated catalyst beds display large temperature non-uniformities, which can be quantified using fiber Bragg based optical temperature sensors. The thermodynamic and kinetic properties of thermochromic pigments obtained by bead milling or hydrothermal synthesis qualify them suited for use in thermochromic coatings and films for energy efficient architectural glazing.
- Daria Burova (Funding source: Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland, project LUMEN – Sunlight as fuel for sustainable chemical processes and EU project SPOTLIGHT); A study on the impact of plasmonic coupling on the sunlight-fueled catalytic hydrogenation of CO2 to CH4.
- Lavinia Calvi (Funding source: NWO SIA, RAAK Pro project Window of the Future and Interreg project SUNOVATE), Design, development, and characterisation of nanoporous thermochromic VO2 coatings for energy efficient glazing.
- Jordi Volders (EU project SPOTLIGHT), A study on the performance and reaction mechanism/underlying physical principles of ceria-supported Au nanocatalysts in the sunlight-powered reverse water gas shift reaction
- M. Xu, T. den Hartog, L. Cheng, M. Wolfs, R. Habets, J. Rohlfs, J. van den Ham, N. Meulendijks, F. Sastre, P. Buskens, Using Fiber Bragg Grating Sensors to Quantify Temperature Non-Uniformities in Plasmonic Catalyst Beds under Illumination. ChemPhotoChem 2022, published online.
- P. Martínez Molina, N. Meulendijks, M. Xu, M. A. Verheijen, T. den Hartog, P. Buskens, F. Sastre, Low Temperature Sunlight-Powered Reduction of CO2 to CO Using a Plasmonic Au/TiO2 Nanocatalyst. ChemCatChem 2021, 13, 4507.
- L. Calvi, L. Leufkens, C. P. K. Yeung, R. Habets, D. Mann, K. Elen, A. Hardy, M. K. Van Bael, P. Buskens, A comparative study on the switching kinetics of W/VO2 powders and VO2 coatings and their implications for thermochromic glazing. Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells 2021, 224, 110977.
- F. Sastre, C. Versluis, N. Meulendijks, J. Rodríguez-Fernández, J. Sweelssen, K. Elen, M. K. Van Bael, T. den Hartog, M. A. Verheijen, P. Buskens, Sunlight-Fueled, Low-Temperature Ru-Catalyzed Conversion of CO2 and H2 to CH4 with a High Photon-to-Methane Efficiency. ACS Omega 2019, 4, 7369.
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