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Dr Nuno Bimbo MEng, PhD, AIChemE

Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering

Dr Nuno Bimbo's photo

Dr Nuno Bimbo joined the University of Southampton in 2019 as a Lecturer in Chemical Engineering. His research deals with the applications of porous materials in energy conversion, storage and gas separations.

Porous materials are a class of materials that find applications in many areas, including engineering, biology and healthcare. In our research group, we are interested in the synthesis of porous materials and their applications in energy storage, conversion and gas separations.

Nuno graduated with an integrated Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Coimbra (Portugal) in 2009, having completed his research project on bioplastics in Lund University (Sweden) under the Erasmus programme. He came to the UK in 2009 to study for a PhD in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath. His PhD thesis, supervised by Prof Tim Mays, concerned the modelling of hydrogen storage in porous materials. After graduating from his PhD in 2013, he stayed in Bath working as a postdoctoral researcher on EPSRC-funded projects on porous materials for hydrogen storage. He was appointed to a Lectureship in Chemical Engineering at Lancaster University in 2015, where he contributed to the IChemE accredited BEng/MEng Chemical Engineering programmes, lecturing core modules, and supervising design and research projects. For his teaching achievements at Lancaster, Nuno received the Faculty of Science and Technology Dean’s Award for Early Career Teacher of the Year in 2018. At Lancaster, he developed a research portfolio focussing on energy applications of nanoporous materials, with various collaborations funded by industry.

He is a full member of the Ordem dos Engenheiros (the Portuguese Professional Accreditation Body for Engineers) since 2014, having received the award for best admission for a full member in the College of Chemical and Biological Engineering (Centre region), an associate member of the IChemE, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research interests

Research focusses on applications of porous materials in gas storage, energy conversion and separation of gases. Major areas of research are synthesis and characterisation of novel two-dimensional porous materials (MXenes) and their application in energy storage, conversion and air purification; hydrogen and methane storage in highly porous materials; membranes for air purification; and microwave-induced plasma gasification.

1. MXenes

MXenes are new two-dimensional materials synthesised from precursor MAX phases, which are carbide or nitride materials with early transition metals and 13 or 14 group elements.

We have developed a method to create porous MXenes which involves the use of pillars to enlarge the interlayer spacings, resulting in materials with increased surface areas and tuneable pore sizes. Using this method, we have obtained some of the highest surface areas seen in MXene materials and some of the largest interlayer distances observed for any 2D material.

We are testing these materials for applications in hybrid capacitors, especially Li, Na and Zn-ion capacitors, in fuel cells and in alkaline electrolysers. We have also used MXenes as support materials for photocatalysts in VOC degradation, and we are investigating possible applications of MXenes in gas separations.

2. Porous materials for gas storage and separations

The group is researching porous materials for gas storage and separations. Main areas of research are porous materials and membranes for air and hydrogen purification, and hydrogen and methane storage in porous materials.

Research in this area is diverse and looks at a range of tools and methods to study the adsorption of gases in porous materials. Research areas include the development of models to analyse supercritical adsorption, with implications in the calculations of the enthalpies of adsorption and on the adsorption kinetics. Highlights of the work include the development of theoretical models to analyse supercritical adsorption on highly porous materials, such as activated carbons and metal-organic frameworks, and the experimental verification of a highly densified phase of hydrogen adsorbed on activated carbon, with features that are commensurate with solid hydrogen.

Recent projects involve the use of porous materials for gas separations, including in methods and materials for air and hydrogen purification. This includes a PhD project on functionalisation of membranes for VOC degradation with Smart Separations Ltd, and a 3-year KTP project with NanoSUN to investigate porous materials to remove contaminants from hydrogen streams, so that the pure gas can be used in fuel cells.

3. Plasma gasification

Plasma gasification is a thermal process for the recovery of energy from waste, which converts organic matter to energy-rich synthetic gases. Together with Stopford Energy and Environment, we are researching microwave-induced plasma gasification and looking at the potential for the syngas generated through this process to be used for efficient energy conversion in a solid oxide fuel cell.

Microwave-induced plasma can be generated by focussing electromagnetic waves on a passing gas, which turns it into a plasma and has the advantage of generating a high-quality syngas with high efficiencies. In a recently funded Innovate UK project, we looked into ways of optimising the efficiencies and economics of the process and have developed novel plasma processing methods that generate plasmas using CO2 and H2O as the working gases.

Research group

Molecular Assembly, Function and Structure

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Dr Nuno Bimbo
Chemistry, Room 2043, Building 27, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 27/2048

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