Methods to improve control over thermally-induced solid state transformations have been developed by the University’s Materials and Catalysis Research Centre. The feedback-controlled thermal and microwave methods developed give catalyst and adsorbent manufacturers improved control and understanding of the materials they are working with. The same techniques are also being applied to pyrotechnic materials, making a significant contribution to defence research in the UK and overseas.

What was the problem?

When using standard or conventional thermal methods, variations in temperature can limit the level of control and the information that is available. The new thermal techniques developed by the Centre have allowed increased control and precision, leading to finer control of material properties and a better understanding of many thermally-induced solid-state processes.

Benefits of this research

This research has improved thermal analytical techniques and made available new information on the structure and function relationships in solid-state systems. The techniques developed have been used in the characterisation of catalytic materials and pyrotechnic materials, resulting in benefits to users and manufacturers, including global companies and the defence industry.

What did we do?

Joint research with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has been carried out to improve carbon adsorbents for personal respirator use by improving the balance between effective adsorption performance and resistance to airflow.

The Centre has also carried out research in collaboration with defence industry companies concentrating on pyrotechnic compositions, with a view to designing new materials using more benign compounds than those that have traditionally been used, resulting in a series of new formulations based on magnesium alloy-sodium nitratecalcium resinate compositions.

What happened next?

Professor Joe Sweeney was invited to join the Northern Sustainable Chemistry Consortium, creating opportunities for the Materials and Catalysis Research Centre to collaborate with the universities of Durham, Leeds, Newcastle and York.