Bussell Research Group

My research interests are in surface and materials chemistry, with an emphasis on the development of earth abundant catalysts for renewable energy and other industrial applications.

Development of New Catalytic Materials based on Metal Phosphides

Recent research in my group has focused on the synthesis, characterization and  evaluation of oxide-supported monometallic and bimetallic phosphide catalysts for use in photocatalytic CO2 hydrogenation, the selective hydrogenation of alkynes (to alkenes), and the upgrading of biomass to biofuels. Shown below is a structural model of Ni2P -- Ni atoms (pink spheres) and P atoms (green spheres); Ni2P exhibits properties similar to noble metals for a number of catalytic reactions.


Ni2P structure

            Nickel phosphide (Ni2P)                                                                                             

Research Opportunities

Students working in my laboratory gain experience in a number of different areas of materials and surface chemistry. Catalysts are synthesized in a flow synthesis apparatus and are characterized by the different techniques listed below, all of which are available at WWU.

Powder X-ray diffraction (XRD)
BET surface area measurements
Pulsed chemisorption (CO, O2) measurements
X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
Scanning electron microscopy
Inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)
Temperature programmed reduction with mass spectral detection (TPR-MS)Transmission Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy

Additional catalyst characterization studies are carried out off-site and include transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and other techniques.

Catalytic activities are measured in two flow reactor systems at WWU.   A schematic diagram of one of the reactors is shown below (left), as is a photograph of the two reactors (below right).

Schematic diagram of reactor
DBT reactor