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RESEARCHERS AND PROFESSORS

Véronique DUFAUD-NICCOLAI

Directrice de recherche

Research themes

My research interests mainly focus on the development of new integrated approaches to the design of high-performance multifunctional catalytic porous materials (through cooperative and/or synergistic effects). The creation of highly engineered catalytic cavities requires that we consider not only the catalytic site structure but also its local environment at the nanoscale and all the physicochemical parameters, which may be involved in the catalytic process (e.g. molecular transport within the solid, confinement effect). The precise control of the porosity of the solid and of the nanometric organization of active sites in multifunctional hybrid materials has allowed us to access a level of reactivity unattainable through traditional random functionalization approaches notably in cooperative and cascade catalysis. This research is clearly multidisciplinary, sitting at the crossroads of different domains: material science, organometallic and coordination chemistry and catalysis and has been declined in various directions over the years.

Current projects

Chemical valorization of CO2

Integrated, one-pot CO2 capture and utilization using porous ionic liquids (Collaboration with Margarida Costa Gomes (ENS Lyon) and Catherine Santini (CP2M); project sponsored by ICL in 2020 and GDR LIPS in 2021).

Here, we seek to develop high-performing, sustainable family of sorbents for simultaneous carbon capture and transformation. We have recently designed new sorbents merging the properties of both liquids and solids. These novel porous liquids materials are readily obtained by suspending solid porous metal-organic framework (MOF) in sterically hindered ionic liquids, thus creating a material with permanent porosity while keeping the liquid fluidity. These porous ionic liquids were found to absorb large amounts of CO2 that can be catalytically coupled with epoxide to form cyclic carbonates with high activity and selectivity (Chem. Commun., 2021, 57, 7922-7925; https://doi.org/10.1039/D1CC02642A).

 

CO2 as reagent to functionalize polymers harnessing reactive extrusion (Collaboration with Prof. Yvan Chalamet and Dr. Véronique Bounor-Legare (IMP) and Drs. Jean Raynaud and Vincent Monteil (CP2M); project funded by Institut Carnot ingénierie@Lyon.

The objective of the DICARBOREX project is to provide functions (in particular polar) to polymers (most often non-polar) by post-modification in an extruder (reactive extrusion catalysis) using CO2 as a functionalizing agent. Its originality lies in the coupling of chemistry developed around CO2 to reactive extrusion. The idea is to provide polymers adapted to target markets by integrating a sustainable approach to the process and the material while remaining competitive in a context of international economic competition.

 

Materials for energy storage

(Collaboration with IMP, SyMMES-UGA and LEMTA)

In the context of a multi-partner ANR project (MULTISTABLE), we seek to develop multi-stabilized hybrid membranes for fuel cells and electrolysers. Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) and water electrolysers (PEMWE) are promising environmentally friendly and oil-free technologies. One of their key components is the polymer electrolyte membrane acting as separator and proton conductor. Improving both the performances and durability of the membrane is critical before any large-scale diffusion of these technologies. We are developing a new and versatile approach based on Sol-Gel (SG) chemistry. Our strategy towards multi-stabilization revolves around two factors: i) introduction of SG precursors into the host membrane to form a 3D SG network to improve its mechanical properties by acting as reinforcers, and ii) introduction of chemical degradation’s inhibitors within the SG phase to reduce the oxidative species present in fuel cell. We achieve the latter goal through the use of SG precursors bearing reactive organofunctional groups which can be of sacrificial type (consumed over time) or redox (self-regenerating).

 

Chemical recycling of end-life polymers through selective depolymerization

(Collaboration with Drs. Jean Raynaud and Vincent Monteil (CP2M))

Polymers are omnipresent in modern life. Their recycling at the end of their life cycle is becoming a major challenge from an environmental and societal point of view at a time where the demand in polymeric products is becoming stronger and more varied while the legislative regulations on their production, use and disposal become more stringent. Reprocessing or mechanical recycling are potential solutions but the chemical valorization of end-life polymer products has emerged as a more attractive alternative and is expected to develop in the coming years.

In this context, we have recently undertaken several actions to address these issues in collaboration with the industrial sector to be as close as possible to their concerns. Our approach consists of merging chemistry, catalysis and external stress to develop innovative and selective routes towards the depolymerization of specialty polymers into higher-added functional molecules using when possible non-thermal technologies. Three research projects are currently on going with Solvay, Elkem Silicones and a more fundamental proof-of-concept project sponsored by the Petroleum Technology Fund of Nigeria.

Partner, links and extras

My research group currently includes :

  • Ms. Evelise Machado Ferri da Silva (PhD student), cosupervision with Prof. Eliane Espuche (IMP). Evelise is working on the ANR project MULTISTABLE for the preparation of multi-stabilized hybrid membranes for fuel cells and electrolyser.
  • Mr. Adamu Aminu IDRIS (PhD student), cosupervision with Drs. Jean Raynaud and Vincent Monteil (CP2M). Adamu’s project is sponsored by the Petroleum Technology Fund of Nigeria and he is studying the depolymerization of polymers by mechanocatalysis
  • Bruno Guerdener (PhD student), cosupervision with Prof. Yvan Chalamet and Dr. Véronique Bounor-Legare (IMP) and Drs. Jean Raynaud and Vincent Monteil (CP2M). Bruno is working in the frame of the project DICARBOREX funded by Institut Carnot ingénierie@Lyon on the use of CO2 as reagent to functionalize polymers harnessing reactive extrusion.
  • Dr. Nam Vu, (postdoctoral fellow), cosupervision with Drs. Jean Raynaud and Vincent Monteil (CP2M) and in collaboration with Elkem Silicones, Processium, Activation and IMP. Nam is working on the project REPOS REssourcement POlymers Silicones funded by the Rhône-Auvergne region and headed by Elkem Silicones.

 

 

 

How to join us?

Mailing address

43 Bd du 11 Nov. 1918
(B. P. 82007)
69616 Villeurbanne CEDEX FRANCE

Contact details

+33 (0)4 72 43 17 67 (team PCM)
+33 (0)4 72 43 17 94 (team MMAGICC)
+33 (0)4 72 43 17 56 (Communication)

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