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CHIM/07 – Chemical Foundations of Technologies




People belonging to the SSD CHIM/07 operate at the Department of Engineering of the University of Palermo and promote research and teaching activities in the context of the typical topics of the Chemical Foundations of Technologies. In particular, the CHIM 07 lecturers provide Chemistry and Chemistry-related courses for both I and II cycle undergraduate Programs of the Department of Engineering. They are also actively involved in tutoring PhD students and in Erasmus students exchanges. As regards the scientific activity carried out, the principal points are reported below.

The research areas currently active are the following:

The researchers are active into two main areas. One concerning heterogeneous photocatalysis and the other one concerning polymer chemistry.

Researchers involved in Photocatalysis are well experienced since ca. 30 years in:

1. Preparation and characterisation of photocatalysts. The main aim of this research is the development of techniques to prepare new materials as nanostructured photocatalysts and to modify their photoelectrochemical properties by dopant and sentitizer agents. The study includes the characterisation of the solids by means of classical methods as XRD, ESEM, FT-IR, SA (BET method), EDAX, etc.

2. Photoassisted reactions and photocatalytic processes. To test the various photocatalysts by means of probe reactions and compare their photoactivities a photocatalytic reactions towards selective green syntheses.

3. Kinetics of heterogeneous photocatalytic reactions and photoreactor modelling. Further aspects concern the kinetics of heterogeneous photoreactions by developing models for the calculation of the intrinsic kinetic parameters of the system under investigation.

4. Coupling of photocatalysis with others technologies. Advanced emerging powerful systems are needed for the wastewater treatment. New technologies, as the use of hybrid membrane reactors allowing to carry out potentially applicable processes are receiving a growing interest from the scientific community. To couple UV radiation with chemical oxidants makes these processes particularly interesting in the field of pollutants degradation.

Researchers active in the Polymer Chemistry field are involved in the following projects:

1. Synthesis of novel bio/nano-materials for drug delivery, diagnosis and regenerative medicine. The research aims (i) to investigate self-assembly mechanism, structural and functional properties of biocompatible hydrogels able to incorporate biologically active molecules and/or stem cells for tissue regeneration, and (ii) to design and synthetize polymeric nanoparticles and nanogels for the delivery of drugs, paramagnetic or radioactive ions, oligonucleotides, and therapeutic proteins to target cells, tissues or organs of the human body. This research activity is carried out in collaboration with biologists and medical doctors.

2. Structure-process-performance relationships for polymer matrix composites. Research activity aims to identify viable strategies to improve fracture toughness and delamination resistance of thermoset resins and fiber reinforced laminates and clarify the mechanisms aging of thermoset resins in various environmental conditions.

3. High-energy radiation chemistry and radiation processing of polymers. Interaction of high-energy radiation (gamma-rays and electron beam) with matter is investigated to identify greener options for the synthesis of novel materials and nanomaterials, and to tailor the molecular and functional properties of bio-based polymers.

List of the main research projects:

PON 01-02257 dal titolo “Studio e sperimentazione di sistemi di fotoconversione con luce solare di CO2 in metanolo, da utilizzare come combustibile- FotoRiduCO2”; PON 02-00153 2849085 dal titolo “Sviluppo di Tecnologie Innovative per il Trattamento dei rifiuti liquidi della navigazione finalizzate alla tutela dell’Ambiente Marino- STI-TAM”; PNR ARS01_00697 dal titolo “Advanced Green Materials for Cultural Heritage-AGM for CuHe”. Horizon 2020 – Call H2020-LCE-2014-1 Conversion of Low Grade Heat to Power through closed loop Reverse Electro-Dialysis (RED-Heat-to-Power). International Coordinator: WIP (Germany). Sub-task 4.2.1 "Temperature sensitive hydrogels" of the Task 4.2 "Assessment of potential of forward osmosis with temperature-sensitive drawing agents." of WP "Regeneration systems operating with very low-Temperature source"/ 2015, May – 2018, May. IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) n. F22064 entitled “Nanosized Delivery Systems for Radiopharmaceuticals”/ IAEA Research Agreement N° No. 18349/R0 / 2014, Apr. – 2019, Mar. MIUR P.O.N. 2014-2020TecHnology And materials for safe Low consumption and low life cycle cost veSSels And crafts - THALASSA (ARS01_00293) – Sub-task of OR3 “Development of impact-resistant laminates using electrospun nanofibers” and Sub-task of OR4 “Development of sustainable anti-fouling coatings based on oligo- and poly-saccharides”. Funded but not yet started.

Keywords: photocatalysis, advanced water treatments, green syntheses of high value added molecules, bionanomaterials, self-assembly, drug delivery, hydrogels, radiation chemistry.