Research

The research activity of CATMAT group is focused on the development of nanoporous and nanostructured materials, their characterization and the investigation of their applications.
In particular, we are interested in catalysis for industrial, environmental and energetic processes, materials for green building and Cultural Heritage, design of cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulates.

Our competencies

Synthesis

Traditional and innovative approaches

  • Precipitation
  • Synthesis of ordered mesoporous materials by templates
  • Sol-gel process
  • Deposition-precipitation
  • Sol-Immobilization
  • Impregnation
  • Microemulsion
Characterisation
  • Physisorption. Study of morphology of solid surfaces : surface area, pore size and pore volume determination
  • Chemisorption. Study of the metal dispersion and mean metal size
  • Temperature Programmed Analyses (TPR, TPO, TPD)
  • Abrasion test. To check attrition loss, resistence, durability of materials
  • Atomic Absorption. To quantify metal contents
  • Ion Cromatography. Ion determination and quantification
  • HPLC, GC
Applications
  • Biomass valorisation: from wastes to high value products (bioplastics, fragrances and fuels)
  • Photocatalysts design for air purification and for fuel production
  • Production of syn-gas by methane dry reforming
  • Catalytic and photocatalytic production of hydrogen from biomas
  • Formulation of multifunctionals materials for bio-building applications
  • Formulation of innovative materials for Cultural Heritage
  • Design of dermo-cosmetic and pharmaceutical innovative formulates
  • Development of industrial catalysts and processes

Active projects

February  2017-2019 PRIN (Research Projects of National Interest): HERCULES: HEterogeneous Catalysts to Upgrade Low valouE biomass Streams

A new spin-off: Ve Nice

Venice

Ve Nice, a new spin-off of Ca’ Foscari University, was born on July 10th. The core business of Ve Nice (Natural, Innovative and Efficient Cosmetics from Venetian University) is the development of innovative and technologically advanced processes and formulations for the production of chemicals to be used in cosmetics and dermo-cosmetics. The five founding members of Ve Nice are part of the CATMAT group, they have a multidisciplinary nature (two chemists, one material science researcher, one pharmacist, one management engineer) and they are all PhD women.

Research awards

Danny Zanardo won the ICS2019 Contest organized within the International School "Innovative Catalysis and Sustainability. Scientific and socio-economic aspects" from 7th to 11th january 2019.

Cristina Pizzolitto participated to the EFCATS SCHOOL ON CATALYSIS in Czech Republic on June 25th‐29th 2018. She contributed with an oral communication on new catalysts for ethanol steam reforming, which has been awarded as one of the best oral presentations.

Alberto Olivo attended NOVACAM Internaional Winter School in Padua on 22 February 2017 , where he presented the results from his reseach. 
In this occasion he was awarded a high commendation for the relevance of his research in the development of innovative processes for alternative sources of energy.

Alberto Olivo was awarded for his poster presentation at 4° IMPEE Conference at Heriot Watt University on September 2° 2016. 
His contribution presentented part of his PhD research project, which is aimed at developing an innovative process to convert carbon dioxide into solar fuels.


Research areas

Photocatalysts design for fuel production

This research is targeted to design innovative processes to storage sunlight into molecules by photocatalysis. In particular, we are considering both C-based and C-free energy vectors, so we are focusing on CO2 photoreduction and ethanol photoreforming.
In the first case, we are developing TiO2-based catalysts for the photocatalytic CO2 reduction to CH4 to be used as an energy carrier focusing on materials’ electronic properties. The study includes both the development of the photocatalyst and of the process conditions.

Moreover, CATMAT group has developed a new rig for the photocatalytic conversion of ethanol, which can be biomass derived, to hydrogen. Also in this case TiO2 materials are used considering this reaction’s peculiar features, such as ethanol/water competitive adsorption, co-catalyst role, etcetera.


Development of catalysts and processes for the production of fine chemicals and fuels from biomass

The research group works on the valorization of each fraction of lignocellulosic biomass. The research is focused on the development of innovative metal supported nanostructured catalysts. In one case, the research concerns the upgrading of C5 and C6 fractions (from cellulose and hemicellulose) to highly required products, such as monomers for bioplastics and fragrances. Gold based materials are investigated for oxidation and oxidative esterification reactions.

Whereas, we are also interested in the conversion of lignin, the least valorized fraction of biomass, to fuel or fuel additives by hydrogenolysis reactions. In this case highly performant, stable and cost effective catalyst are required. Our research is thus oriented to nickel and/or cobalt supported catalyst to upgrade real lignocellulosic biomass from local vineries.


Catalytic Production of Hydrogen from biomass 

One of the research themes of CATMAT group is hydrogen production from renewable sources. The research focuses on the use of Ni based heterogeneous catalysts in the steam reforming of ethanol.
We are evaluating, in particular, the effect of both the metal phase and the support on the performance of the catalyst in terms of stability, regeneration and hydrogen productivity.
A new automatic and computerized high-pressure catalytic reactor (PID) has been optimized for the investigation of this process. 

Applications of our catalysts as anode for real solar oxide fuel cells (SOFC) have been investigated too.


Production of syn-gas by methane dry reforming

The catalytic reforming of CH4 with CO2, rather than steam, for the production of synthesis gas characterized by a low H2/CO ratio, has attracted a considerable interest for both environmental and commercial reasons. The major problem preventing commercialization of the CO2 reforming is finding a suitable catalyst that will not deactivate under the conditions needed for this reaction.

Our group works on catalytic reforming of CH4 with CO2 over mono and bimetallic Pd(or Pt)-Ni based samples supported on Al2O3, ZrO2 and CeO2. A simple temperature-programmed procedure is used for the study of both reforming and coke formation via CH4 or CO decomposition.


Design of dermo-cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulates

CATMAT works on the formulation of innovative high performant products for cosmetics and pharmaceutic through the development of sustainable protocols.
The research is focused on the synthesis and characterization of inorganic (SiO2, TiO2) and hybrid matrices (by using several organic polymers) for the formulation of drug delivery systems. The investigations about the samples preparation have been performed using not only traditional techniques such as impregnation and precipitation, but also examining closely the research on sol gel methodology and on LCT (Liquid Crystal Template) method.
The drug release tests have been performed in vitro simulating the physiological environment of the gastro-intestinal tract. The attention was centered on the correlation between the physico-chemical, morphological and structural features of the carriers and the drug release kinetic.  


Formulation of Innovative Materials for Applications in Cultural Heritage

Recently CATMAT expanded its research to the formulation of innovative, environmentally friendly  and multi-functional materials for applications in Cultural Heritage. 
We have a strong background in the synthesis and characterization of oxides based materials for the abatement of air pollutants by photocatalysis. Also sol gel technology is a widely consolidated technique in our Group. At the moment we are investigating the application of photocatalytically active titanium dioxide and zinc oxide materials on a natural typical venician "marmorino" in collaboration with restorers of Uni.S.Ve. (Union of Venician Restorers).


Formulation of multifunctional materials for bio-building applications

Within CATMAT group we developed a strong background in the synthesis and characterization of TiO2 based materials for photocatalytic reactions aiming at the abatement of air pollutants.
By new approaches for the synthesis and dopants introduction, we optimized TiO2 both for oxidation reactions of NO with visible light and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mineralization to CO2 and H2O.
Recently CATMAT expanded his research to the formulation of environmentally friendly, cheap and multi-functional materials for applications in the green building sector.
At the moment we are coupling photocatalytically active titanium dioxide materials with thermal insulants high surface area silica to formulate multifunctional silica-titania systems a cost effective approach to control their physicochemical, morphological and structural features.


Development of industrial catalysts and processes

For many years, CATMAT research group has been working on the development of heterogeneous activated carbon and oxides supported metal catalysts.
In particular, the research group works on the synthesis of nanoparticles of noble metals such as Pd, Pt, Au and of less expensive Ni, Cu, Ru, their characterization and investigation of catalytic processes.