Grantham Scholar Georgie Moss’ project addresses the challenges around metal oxide (and similar) particle fabrication, employing aqueous ionic liquid-metal solutions.
There is a growing need for sustainable manufacturing processes due to global commitments to developing a circular economy and reaching net zero emissions. In every process, there are three areas where sustainability may be considered and improved (outside of changing the energy source): materials; process, either modification or re-invention; waste and end-of-life product management. This research program aims to address the challenges around metal oxide (and similar) particle fabrication, employing aqueous ionic liquid-metal solutions as the basis of a more sustainable process. This program will examine, in varying depth, the materials used in the process, the process itself, and the waste treatment and management.
The manufacturing of metal oxides has been targeted as the traditional synthesis methods are either highly energy intensive, produce poor grade materials, and copious waste or employ toxic, corrosive, and volatile solutions that cannot be recycled, thereby creating large volumes of waste.
Aqueous solutions of ionic liquids are an exciting potential alternative due to the non-volatile, low toxicity, and recyclable potential offered. This offers the potential for promoting safer and more sustainable synthesis processes with less waste. Underpinning this new technology requires a fundamental scientific understanding of the interactions between ionic liquids and metals. This knowledge-base will allow targeted development of this technology towards producing key desirable metal oxide (and related) particles for a bevy of existing applications. Moreover, the sustainability benefits will be the first steps towards circular manufacturing.