Our research is very fundamental but the results are very applied. When we push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, we get new insight into how to solve some of the important challenges that society faces.
Below are some of our research topics. Information about the projects is found on the Projects page.
Waste Disposal and Prevention of Contamination
When waste is simply dumped on the land, rain carries contamination into the soil and groundwater. Natural solids can take up contaminants and immobilise them. Reactive barriers can stop contaminant transport. We study the tricks nature uses and make more effective materials and derive data for safety/risk assessment modelling.
Related Projects: Metal-Aid, MINSC, Iron Oxides, MiMe, FunMig, ACTINET, ACTAF
Ensuring clean water and remediating contamination
When soil or groundwater aquifers become contaminated, cleanup is difficult. The best method is one that can work in situ, in the ground, to remove or immobilise the contamination while causing the least disruption to houses, schools, businesses etc. The Metal-Aid project is an international collaboration that aims to develop natural nanoparticles that can degrade organic solvent contaminants and trap heavy metals.
Related Projects: Metal-Aid, GEM, MIRO, IronBug, NanoCArB, RECRYST
To Solve the CO2 problem…
Carbonate minerals can be stable for millions of years. Converting CO2 gas to carbonate minerals removes it from the air and water and stores it safely. We have projects on various aspects of CO2 .
Related Projects: CINEMA, OMNICS, Kat-Trap, NanoHeal, CarbFix, CO2– React
Stone wool insulation has many advantages. It is light and durable, has low cost, high fire resistivity and acustic and heat insulation properties. The fibres have the same composition as basaltic glass. We are working with ROCKWOOL to understand more about the surface properties of stone wool fibers.
Related Projects: FibreSurf, WOODI, FibreAd
Understanding the mysteries of biomineralisation
Organisms make bones, teeth and shells by using organic compounds that they produce, to control the growth of minerals. Clearer understanding about how they do it will enrich our attempts to make biomimetic materials.
Related Projects: PROTEIOS, Kat-Trap, NanoHeal, MIB, ElectroBug, PepNac, IronBug, TomoMech, Nano-Chalk
The origins of life on Earth and on Mars
Organic molecules trapped on mineral surfaces provide information about the past. High resolution analysis allows us to identify only a few molecules, which can tell us about the organisms that produced them, opening a window into the distant past.
Related Projects: EAL, MarsLife, ArchiIron
3D imaging and microstructure of solids
CT (computerised tomography) scanning at micro and nanometre scale allows us to see the 3 dimensional structure inside solid materials, without destroying them. We can use this information to predict flow of gases or fluids through porous materials, to determine how the internal structure changes with time and to simulate mechanical strength.
Related Projects: P3, CINEMA, OMNICS, CO2-React, TomoMech, TomoSand
Enhancing oil recovery (EOR) from existing reservoirs
Sustainable energy is the way of the future. We have come a long way in the last 10 years toward a low carbon world. However, the global economy will still need oil and gas for a couple more decades before new energy forms become completely economically viable. If we can increase production from existing oil fields by a few percent, it avoids the need to develop fields in the high Arctic or very deep water, where environment risks are greater.
Related Projects: P3, SurfChem, WetMod, OptiProbe, SCALE, Nano-Sand, W-EOR, NoWax, TomoSand, Smart Particles, Nano-Chalk
Art History and Conservation
Many historical art pieces and archaeological artefacts are rocks and minerals, or contain rocks and minerals (e.g. pigments in paint, papyri ink). Over the years we have had several collaborations with the Center for Art Technological Studies and Conservation at the Statens Museum for Kunst (CATS-SMK) and the Department of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies (ToRS), where we have used scanning electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to study paintings, Egyptian papyri and marble, in an effort to better understand conservation methods and art history.
Mineral surface properties and behaviour
The overarching theme of the research in our group is to understand the fundamental properties of natural materials. We collect thermodynamic and kinetic data and to elucidate the mechanisms of mineral-fluid processes. By understanding the properties and behaviour of minerals, in contact with natural fluids, we can develop innovative solutions to major challenges in society and industry.
Related Projects: Metal-Aid, EAL, NanoHeal, PROTEIOS, WOODI, FibreSurf, SurfChem, CO2-React, MIB, MINSC, W-EOR, Nano-Sand, NoWax, TomoMech, SALACIA, MIR, MIN-GRO, Nano-Chalk, MarsLife
Particle characterisation, Particle development
Our instruments “see” at nanometre scale so we can characterise materials in new ways, such as the volcanic ash that closed Europe’s airspace a few years ago, and we can use what we learn to develop more effective particles such as for paint, fibres in cloth, paper and insulation, cement, powdered milk, filtration membranes, catalysts and so on.
Related Projects: Metal-Aid, MIRO, FibreSurf, FibreAd, Nano-CArB, CarbFix, MINSC, Smart Particles, Eyjafjallajökull Ash, MIN-GRO, RHIZO, SALACIA, Nano-Chalk, FunMig, Iron Oxides