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Aston University EBRI Facilities 

Chromatography 

Chromatography is term used for a broad range of physical methods used for separation and analysis of complex mixtures which involves a sample being dissolved in a mobile and forced through a stationary phase in which different compounds get separated and then will be detected by detectors. Based on the form of the mobile phase, chromatography is divided into two categories:

Gas chromatography 

Gas chromatography (GC) is a common type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for separating and analysing compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition. EBRI is equipped with 12 GCs including one GC-Mass spectrometry manufactured by Agilent, Bruker and Shimadzu.

GC

Liquid chromatography

High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is a powerful tool to separate, identify & quantify components dissolved in a liquid mixture with a high analytical resolution. Currently in EBRI, there are two Agilent 1260 Infinity HPLC systems equipped with refractive index, diode array and fluorescence detectors and a range of different columns including Hi-Plex H and Hi-Plex Ca (Duo) for analysis of monosaccharide, oligosaccharide mixtures and organic acids.

LC

Radleys Carousel Reaction Stations and jacketed reactors

Instead of using the old-fashioned oil-bath systems, Radleys Carousels enable researchers to carry out up to 5 reactions in parallel in identical conditions with precise temperature and stirring rate control. At EBRI, several Radleys Carousel Reaction Stations are being utilised for catalyst preparation as well as for performing catalytic reactions. Also there are two jacketed reaction systems for large scale (up to 5 litres) catalyst synthesis; equipped with overhead stirrers and temperature controllers.

Radleys Carousel

N2 porosimetry

Nitrogen porosimetry is an analytical technique which can give information about physical and structural properties of solid materials such as surface area, pore diameter, meso- and micropore volume, total pore volume, etc. There are 4 Quantachrome Nova N2 porosimetry instruments at EBRI.

EBRI

High pressure-temperature reactors

Some chemical reactions require high gas pressure and/or temperatures. In order to be able to carry out research on such reactions, EBRI is equipped with 7 Parr compact reactors which can go to temperatures and pressures as high as 350°C and 100 bar respectively.

High pressure-temperature reactors

Liquid phase flow reactors

Flow reactors provide an excellent link between the laboratory and much larger industrial scale processes. In this mode, a wide variety of parameters can be screened in a relatively short time period, such as pressure, temperature, solvents and substrate concentration, yielding greater understanding of catalyst properties and behaviour prior to scale-up. EBRI is equipped with a commercially available “Uniqsis Flowsynth reactor.”

Liquid phase flow reactors at EBRI

ATR-IR spectroscopy (Attenuated Total Reflectance – Infra-red)

ATR-IR is an analytical technique which can be used to probe the species present on the surface of a thin film of sample material. Information can be determined about identity and type of surface sites present; however the real power of this technique lies in the ability to determine the mode of interaction between catalyst and substrate under pseudo-operando conditions. EBRI has a Thermo Scientific Nicolet iS50 spectrometer, equipped with a Pike environmental in-situ cell.

Attenuated Total Reflectance (Infra-red)

DRIFTS (Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform Spectroscopy) 

DRIFTS utilises Infra-red light to ascertain the surface properties of catalytic materials. Adsorption of probe compounds (such as pyridine or carbon monoxide) can permit the elucidation of surface sites and type, providing a more in-depth picture of catalyst structure. EBRI has two Thermo Scientific Nicolet iS50 spectrometers fitted for DRIFTS mode. 

Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform Spectroscopy

Chemisorption

Chemisorption arises due to chemical interactions (bonds) between an adsorbate and a surface, with such specificity imparting selectivity into the measurement which thus allows evaluation of active catalytic species. Quantitative titrations allow the number surface sites present to be determined, with application including transition metal sites, metal oxides and acid/base sites, whilst temperature programmed desorption, or reaction under oxidising or reducing conditions, allows further insight with elucidation into active site strength and/or morphology. 


Chemisorption

TGA-MS 

Thermogravimetric analysis monitors the evolution of physical and chemical properties of materials as a function of temperature, via associated mass losses and heat flow (endothermic or exothermic processes), with application including oxidation, reduction, desorption and reactions under appropriate gas flows. The coupling of mass spectrometry into the set-up, via the gas stream exhaust, facilitates qualitative analysis of both reactive gas consumption/product formation and chemical species evolved from the material under analysis.     

TGA-MS

DRUVS

The measurement geometry utilised in diffuse reflectance ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy imparts surface sensitivity, with the configuration also facilitating in-situ/operando measurements of solid materials under flowing reactive gases and/or temperature. The technique is commonly applied to transition metal compounds, metal nanoparticles and photocatalysts.

DRUVS

X-ray photoelectron spectrometer

The Kratos Axis HSi photoelectron spectrometer is a highly advanced surface technique, used in EBRI for the characterisation of nanostructural calatytic materials. It also has in-situ capabilities, with a heating and cooling cell within the analysis chamber, for studying changes to oxidation states or surface elemental concentrations in non-ambient conditions, as well as a high pressure heated treatment chamber, for following chemical reaction pathways using a gas/vapour dosing system. The instrument has 3 x-ray sources, allowing for the removal of interfering Auger transitions, as well as advanced techniques, such as depth profiling.

X-ray photoelectron spectrometer

Powder X-ray diffractometer

The Bruker d8 advance powder XRD is a high throughput diffractometer, for the analysis of crystallinity and phase determination of powder samples, such as metal nanoparticles or highly ordered mesoporous materials. 2θ values of 0.45° to 10° can be obtained through use of the low angle set-up, or 10° to 120° using the standard Bragg-Bentano geometry. The instrument is also capable of utilising an Anton-Paar XRK-900 high pressure cell, allowing for analysis under non-ambient pressures and temperatures, and the instrument is connected to a variety of gases and mass flow controllers. Advanced techniques such as reflectivity or offset 2θ scans are also made possible using this cell.

Powder X-ray diffractometer

Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer

Our Thermo iCAP 7000 ICP-OES is a tool for quantitative elemental analysis of solutions or, through utilisation of our microwave digestion techniques, solid samples. With up to sub ppb detection limits possible for a large amount of elements, this technique is an incredibly useful tool for ion detection (for example, the study of the kinetics of dissolution). 

Flash 2000 elemental analyser

The Thermo FLASH 2000 elemental analyser is a fast, easy and accurate method for the determination of organic contents in any sample (e.g. Biomass). The instrument is set up for the simultaneous analysis of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur, and analysis of solid or liquid samples is possible.

Flash 2000 elemental analyser

Photocatalytic reactors

The photocatalytic reactors in EBRI are set-up to follow reactions catalysed by semi-conductive photoactive materials under UV light. Both monochromated LEDs (365 nm) and non-monochromated UV lamps are set up in separate units, each with a quartz reactor. Used in combination with gas chromatography, HPLC or UV-Vis spectroscopy, we are able to follow photodegradation or evolution kinetics of both UV-active and smaller molecules with ease.

Photocatalytic reactors