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Centre for Environmental and Energy Research

Staff

  • Prof. Dr. ir. Philippe M. Heynderickx
  • Prof. Dr. Francis Verpoort
  • Prof. Dr. Serge Zhuiykov
  • Dr. Keshab K. Adhikary
  • Dr. Mohammad Karbalaei Akbari
  • Msc. Zihan Wei
  • Msc. Sepideh Soroush
  • Msc. Alireza Ranjbari
  • Msc. Nour Aljammal

Research

  • The Centre for Environmental and Energy Research (CEER) is one of the five existing research centers of the Ghent University Global Campus, Korea. The centre was established in 2015 with the aim to deliver scientific outcomes that will have a real impact on consolidation of environmental issues, themes and topics, and to do this under one umbrella to highlight their interconnectedness and interdisciplinary nature.
  • With a focus on knowledge transfer and information dissemination, CEER targets the nano-scale development of new materials and nano-structures for the next generation of advanced functional devices and processes which enable solutions for various environmental and energy problems.
  • The Engineering of Materials via Catalysis and Characterization (EMCC) group is a part of CEER (Prof. Heynderickx and Prof. Verpoort), where heterogeneous catalysis is the basic key in material science and understanding. Environmental applications are envisaged via kinetic modelling processes, such as sugar conversion into platform chemicals and heterogeneous photocatalysis for pollutant degradation in (surface) waters. Next to these catalytic applications, part of the research is focusing on the conversion of waste seaweed into hydrochar and activated carbon, which has extensive usage in agricultural applications and purification methodologies.

Goals

CEER aims to bring together disparate knowledge resources on a three-pronged approach:
  • To carry out research and development at the international level;
  • To implement the latest state-of-the-art scientific discoveries in education, teaching and training programs at GUGC;
  • To facilitate policy and program development at the local level.

As these goals are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, CEER’s strategies also overlap, and have been designed for the following five areas:
  • To put in place an adequate research capacity;
  • To facilitate the undertaking of internationally-competitive strategic research;
  • To facilitate and stimulate the utilization of national and international research collaborations;
  • To enhance alliances with stakeholders of the Ghent University, Belgium;
  • To enhance CEER’s capacity to support decision making at GUGC.

Achievements

The research centre has published over 170 research papers and 5 books in the last 5 years.
  • 2016 – Prof. Verpoort is “Wuhan City Partner”, Wuhan, China
  • 2016 – Prof. Verpoort is “Distinguished Fellow”; International and Technology Institute, Hong Kong.
  • 2017 – Prof. Verpoort receives IAAM Medal 2017 for notable and outstanding research in the field of Advanced Materials Science & Technology, Singapore; awarded by the International Association of Advanced Materials.
  • 2017 – Award of “Distinguished Expert” of Shanxi Province of P.R. of China to Prof. Zhuiykov
  • 2020 – Award “Dr. Basudey Banerjee Memorial Medal” from Indian Chemical Society to Prof. Verpoort
  • 2020 – Prof. Verpoort become Editor-in-Chief Nanocatalysis (Frontiers)
  • 2020 – Prof. Verpoort becomes Editor-in-Chief Chemistry Africa (Springer Nature)

Top 5 papers

  • Prof. Heynderickx
    1. Aljammal N., Jabbour C., Thybaut J. W., Demeestere K., Verpoort, F., Heynderickx P.M. Metal-organic frameworks as catalysts for sugar conversion into platform chemicals: state-of-the-art and prospects, J. Coordin. Chem. Rev. (IF = 15.367), 401, 213064-213087 (2019).
    2. Nath I., Chakraborty J., Heynderickx P. M., Verpoort F. Engineered synthesis of hierarchical porous organic polymers for visible light and natural sunlight induced rapid degradation of azo, thiazine and fluorescein based dyes in a unique mechanistic pathway, Appl. Catal. B: Environ. (IF = 16.683), 227, 102-113 (2018).
    3. Heynderickx P. M. Closing the balance by the CLOBAL procedure: towards more accurate concentration, conversion and selectivity values. Chem. Eng. J. (IF = 10.652), 361, 805-811 (2019).
    4. Chaemchuem S., Heynderickx P. M., Verpoort F. Kinetic modeling of oleic acid esterification with UiO-66: from intrinsic experimental data to kinetics via elementary reaction steps, Chem. Eng. J. (IF = 10.652), 394, 124816 (2020).
    5. Chakraborty J., Nath I., Song, S., Sharmarke M., Heynderickx P. M., Verpoort F. Semiconducting porous organic polymers: visible-light-responsive catalysts for organic transformations. J. Photoch. Photobio. C. (IF = 11.952), 41, 100319 (2019).
  • Prof. Zhuiykov
    1. M. Kalabalaei Akbari, S. Zhuiykov, A bioinspired optogenetically engineered artificial neurorobotics device with sensorimotor functionalities, Nature Communications 10 (2019) 3873.
    2. M. Kalabalaei Akbari, J. Hu. H. Lu, F. Verpoort, S. Zhuiykov, Nanoscale all-oxide-heterostructured bio-inspired opto-responsive nociceptor, Nano Micro Letters 12 (2020) 83.
    3. M. Karbalaei Akbari, S. Zhuiykov, Ultrathin Two-Dimensional Semiconductors for Novel Electronic Applications, CRC Press, Boca Raton, USA, 2020, 340p.
    4. S. Zhuiykov, Nanostructured Semiconductors, Elsevier Science, Oxford, UK 2018, 558p.
    5. H. Xu, C. Xia, S. Wang, F. Han, X. He, L. Lin, M. Kalabalaei Akbari, Z. Hai, S. Zhuiykov, Electrochemical non-enzymatic glucose sensor based on hierarchical 3D Co3O4/Ni heterostructure electrode for pushing sensitivity boundary to a new limit, Sensors & Actuators B: Chemical 267 (2018) 93-103.
  • Prof. Verpoort
    1. Rational Design of Holey 2D non-layered Transition Metal Carbide/Nitride Heterostructure Nanosheets for Highly Efficient Water Oxidation. Zongkui Kou, Tingting Wang, Qilin Gu, Mo Xiong, Lirong Zheng, Xin Li, Zhenghui Pan, Hao Chen, Francis Verpoort, Anthony K. Cheetham, Shichun Mu, John Wang. Adv. Energy Mater., 2019, 1803768. (IF: 24.884)
    2. 2D dual-metal ZIF derived bifunctional air electrodes with ultra-high electrochemical properties for rechargeable zinc-air batteries. T-T. Wang,  Z-K. Kou,  S. Mu, J-P. Liu, D-P. He, I. S. Amiinu, W. Meng, K. Zhou, Z-X. Luo, S. Chaemchuen, F. Verpoort, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2018, 28, 1705048. (IF: 15.621)
    3. Characterization and properties of Zn/Co zeolitic imidazolate frameworks vs. ZIF-8 and ZIF-67, Kui Zhou, Bibimaryam Mousavi, Zhixiong Luo, Shophot Phatanasri, Somboon Chaemchuen and Francis Verpoort, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2017,5, 952-957. (IF: 10.733)
    4. Metal organic frameworks mimicking natural enzymes: a structural and functional analogy, Ipsita Nath, Jeet Chakraborty and Francis Verpoort, Chem. Soc. Rev. 2016, 45, 4127-4170. (IF: 40.443;)
    5. Metal–organic frameworks: versatile heterogeneous catalysts for efficient catalytic organic transformations, Adeel H. Chughtai, Nazir Ahmad, Hussein A. Younus, A. Laypkov and Francis Verpoort, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2015, 44, 6804-6849. (IF: 40.443; citations: 683)

Education

This research Centre provides courses in Chemistry (Inorganic, Organic and Environmental), Physics, Green Chemistry and Technology and Process Engineering and Exhaust Gas Treatment. Please see https://studiegids.ugent.be/2020/NL/GC/O/BACH/OBENTE/OBENTE.html for more information on the courses.
  • Inorganic Chemistry 1: Structure of Matter (BA1)

    • To acquire a general overview of and the necessary insight into the basic concepts of the structure of matter which is needed as basic knowledge for the future bachelor in life sciences and bioscience engineering and as a prerequisite for more specialized and applied chemistry courses. The main objective is to provide insight into the fundamental differences between physical and chemical processes. As the emphasis is on physical chemistry, the course is well suited to attribute to the development of scientific skills such as analytical reasoning, ability for critical reflection and problem-solving capability.
  • Inorganic Chemistry 2: Reactivity of Matter (BA1)

    • This is a bachelor course in which students will be introduced to the basic principles of reactivity of matter in inorganic chemistry (chemical kinetics and equilibrium). The emphasis of the course is on the thermodynamic driving forces for chemical changes, and the course is well suited to attribute to the development of scientific skills such as analytical reasoning, ability for critical reflection and problem-solving capability in inorganic chemistry.
  • Organic Chemistry 1: Structure and Reactivity (BA2)

    • After a short introduction to the relevance of organic chemistry and its daily applications, the necessary terminology on chemical bonding is given. The nomenclature of the most conventional organic molecules is given with attention to their physical and chemical properties. Next, the molecular structure of carbon bonds and isomerism phenomena are discussed. The central part of the course comprises the enumeration of typical compound classes such as alkanes, cycloalkanes, alkenes, alkynes, aromatic compounds, alcohols, ethers and epoxides, aldehydes and ketones, carboxylic acids and derivatives, amines quaternary ammonium compounds and heterocyclic compounds. Occasionally, different mechanisms of chemical reactions, which are linked to functional groups, are explained, e.g. Fisher esterification reaction. Electrophilic addition reactions and electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions are studied as well as the basics of nucleophilic substitution reactions, SN1 and SN2, and elimination reactions E1 and E2.
  • Organic Chemistry 2: Advanced Reactivity (BA2)

    • The course is a continuation of Organic Chemistry 1. Topics such as electrophilic addition reactions, electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions, nucleophilic substitution reactions, SN1 and SN2, and elimination reactions E1 and E2 are retaken in a much deeper detail. Also, the stability of organic compounds, intermolecular reactions and interactions are addressed. The central part of the course comprises the advanced study of different mechanisms of chemical reactions, which are linked to functional groups. A good knowledge of chemical reactivity is essential in the course. This knowledge is then applied to a number of classes of compounds, natural products and industrial materials, on a more advanced level than in Organic Chemistry 1. Attention is paid to the relevant links between organic chemistry and everyday life, and agrochemical and pharmaceutical sciences. Especially, some typical compounds for biochemistry are highlighted with respect to their formation mechanisms. Additionally, attention is paid to the industrial preparation of the most important industrial (intermediate) compounds, e.g., benzene, acetaldehyde, and the principles of oil refinery. Natural products, an introduction on the use of dyes and synthesis and applications of the most common polymers are included. Laboratory experiments help the student to acquire the needed insights in Organic Chemistry.
    • Priority is given to the understanding of the chemical reactivity of the compounds that are used and their properties. The different mechanisms of chemical reactions are illustrated by means of selected practical exercises. These experiments are accompanied by an introduction concerning safety and toxicology and a theoretical explanation of the different exercises.
  •  Physics 3: Electricity and Magnetism (BA2)

    • The course teaches students the basics of electrical safety and electrical hazards. Students will have detailed knowledge of the principles of electricity and magnetism utilized in various modern electrical and scientific equipment, as well as in different electrical and/or electro-magnetic devices in everyday life.
  • Physics 4: Optics and Physical and Chemical Thermodynamics (BA2)

    • The course teaches students in-depth knowledge about optics and thermos-dynamical phenomena in physical chemistry and electrochemistry. The course is closely related to all three GUGC programs: Environmental Technologies, Food Technologies and Molecular Biotechnologies, because its focuses on all physical and electro-chemical processes in the solutions. Thermo-dynamical, chemical  and electrochemical processes in solutions is the background of all three programs.
  • Process Engineering (BA3)

    • This course continues the education started in the physics courses, in particular thermodynamics and physical transport phenomena. The course is complementary with the course Process Technology. Process Engineering covers the principles of unit operations, whereas Process Technology focuses on the technical realization of these unit operations. The purpose of the course is twofold. First, the set-up of processes, being based on (mass or heat) transport phenomena, is covered. Second, a selection of typical unit operations from the chemical industry and industrial activities with respect to e.g. food processing, are discussed, where the selection comprises calculations concerning momentum, mass and heat transfer operations. 
  • Exhaust Gas Treatment (BA3)

    • The course teaches students the fundamentals about the nature of major pollutants identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The course is also focused on the detailed explanation of the main “indoor” and “outdoor” pollutants and methods of their treatment. Students will learn and understand the impact of modern pollution on humans and the environment. The course overviews a significant range of modern technologies dedicated to the exhaust gases treatment and state-of-the-art sensors for their measurements. As the specific specialized course of the Environmental Technologies, Exhaust Gases Treatment is inseparably connected to the supporting disciplines, in particular environmental chemistry, physical chemistry, physics and process control.
  • Green Chemistry and Technology (BA3)

    • Green chemistry in very simple terms is just a different way of thinking about how chemistry and the corresponding chemical engineering can be done. Over the years, different principles have been proposed that can be used when thinking about the design, development and implementation of chemical products and processes. These principles enable scientists and engineers to protect and benefit the economy, people and the planet by finding creative and innovative ways to reduce waste, conserve energy, and discover replacements for hazardous substances. It is important to note that the scope of these of green chemistry and corresponding engineering principles go beyond concerns over hazards from chemical toxicity, and include energy conservation, waste reduction and designing for end of life or the final disposal of the product. The course is well suited to attribute to the development of scientific skills such as analytical reasoning, ability for critical reflection and problem-solving capability as a future bachelor in life sciences and bioscience engineering. 
  • Environmental Chemistry (BA2)

    • Relying on knowledge acquired in general and organic chemistry, elements from soil chemistry, aquatic chemistry and atmospheric chemistry are combined in a quantitative treatment of chemical processes and corresponding equilibria in the environment. The source, nature and properties of organic and inorganic contaminants are reviewed by means of up-to date scientific reports (papers, presentations) and applied in the study of their behaviour in air, water, soil and ground water, and of their disrupting effects and eventual measures. Current issues such as acid rain formation, acidification of oceans, prevention methods for air pollution (chemical aspect), criteria for clean water, element cycles and the influence of anthropogenic actors (e.g. greenhouse effect), and toxic metals are discussed in class.