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Assistant Professor Dr. Chularat Wattanakit

School of Energy Science and Engineering
Tel. +66(0)33014255
Email chularat.w@vistec.ac.th


Hierarchical porous materials design for heterogeneous catalysis and electrocatalysis


Research Overview

Designing of various hierarchical porous materials for using in heterogeneous catalysis and electrocatalysis: Designing hierarchical bifuctional zeolite nanosheets, hierarchical zeolites/MOF composites, and chiral porous metals; Petroleum refinery based on hierarchical zeolite applications; Bio-oil upgrading via catalytic and electrocatalytic processes; Asymmetric synthesis using chiral encoded hierarchical porous metals.

Hierarchical Porous Materials Design

Hierarchical porous materials play an important role in a wide range of applications ranging from adsorption to separation technologies as well as catalysis. This is because of their attractive features such as high surface area, high stability, well-defined, tunable pore size and unique catalytic property.

Our research team at VISTEC has been investigating the novel design of various hierarchical porous materials such as hierarchal bifunctional zeolite nanosheets, zeolites/MOF composites, and chiral porous metals. These materials are expected to be promising candidates in heterogeneous catalysis and electrocatalysis, in terms of high activity, outstanding shape selectivity of desired products, and catalyst lifetime.

Chiral porous materials

Schematic of enantioselective recognition at chiral porous metals (Nat. Commun., 5:3325 (2014))
Chirality is widespread in natural systems and most chiral biological molecules exist in only one of two possible mirror-image forms. We have successfully fabricated a chirally imprinted mesoporous metal, obtained by the electrochemical reduction of metal salts in the presence of a liquid crystal phase and chiral template molecules. These materials deliver the enantioselective recognition of chiral molecules and benefit as asymmetric electrocatalysts for chiral synthesis.

Hierarchical Bifunctional Zeolite Nanosheets

The development of zeolite-based materials is the major scientific and industrial challenges. In particular, they have been widely utilized as heterogeneous catalysts, which are important in the petrochemical industry. However, conventional zeolites often suffer from many disadvantages such as, low accessibility of guest molecules into active sites, mass and heat transfer limitation and short catalyst lifetime. To overcome such drawbacks, the introduction of larger pores (mesopores and macropores) interconnected to micropores of conventional zeolite frameworks, producing new materials, namely the hierarchical porous zeolites, is one of the most promising strategies as being a major challenge for the development of heterogeneous catalysts.


Schematic of synthesized hierarchical bifunctional zeolite nanosheets


Applications of Hierarchical Porous Materials

As heterogeneous zeolite-based catalysts have been widely used in many applications in petroleum refining processes (e.g., aromatization, isomerization, alkylation, dehydro/ hydrogenation and cracking/ hydrocracking, etc.). From the beneficial viewpoints of hierarchical zeolites, this research scope is very important for the development of the petrochemical industry in Thailand. As expected, this research is not only to provide the basic knowledge of the heterogeneous catalytic chemistry, but also to implement the new technology for catalyst manufacturing in the future.

Schematic of representatives of petreochemical reactions (RSC Adv., 6 2875-2881 (2016)

Because the shortage of energy is a international security issue, researches on the development of alternative energies have also been our points of concern. Bio-oil is one of the most promising alternative energy sources replacing to fossil fuels. However, the produced bio-oils from biomass compose of high oxygen content and acidity, resulting in poor quality in fuel production. To improve the quality of fuels derived bio-oil, they have been predominantly performed through the catalytic and electrocatalytic upgrading processes using hierarchical porous catalysts.

Schematic of the conversion cycle of biomass into transportation fuels


Selected Publications

  • Wannakao, S.; Artrith, N.; Limtrakul, J., Kolpak, A. M., ChemSusChem 8, 2745-2751 (2015).
  • Maihom, T.; Wannakao, S.; Boekfa, B.; Limtrakul, J., Journal of Physical Chemistry C 117, 17650-17658 (2013).
  • Maihom, T.; Wannakao, S.; Boekfa, B.; Limtrakul, J., Journal of Chemical Physics Letter 556, 217-224 (2013).
  • Wannakao, S; Warakulwit, C.; Kongpatpanich, K.; Probst, M.; Limtrakul, J., ACS Catalysis. 2, 986-992 (2012).
  • Wannakao, S.; Nongnual, T.; Khongpracha, P.; Maihom, T.; Limtrakul, J., Journal of Physical Chemistry C 116, 16992-16998 (2012).
  • Kongpatpanich K., Nanok T., Boekfa B., Probst M., Limtrakul J., Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 13, 6462-6470 (2011).
  • Wannakao, S.; Khongpracha, P.; Limtrakul, J., Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 115, 12486-12492 (2011).
  • Wannakao, S.; Boekfa, B.; Khongpracha, P.; Probst, M.; Limtrakul, J., ChemPhysChem 11, 3432 (2010).

Research Group Members:

Dr. Chularat Wattanakit (Lecturer)
Dr. Jumras Limtrakul (Professor)
Dr. Sareeya Bureekaew (Lecturer)
Dr. Thittaya Yutthalekha(Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Ms. Wannaruedee Wannapakdee
Ms. Saros Salakhum
Ms. Duangkamon Suttipat
Ms. Pannida Dugkhuntod
Mr. Sirawit Shetsiri
Mr. Sunpet Assavapanumat

International Research Collaborator:

Prof. Alexander Kuhn University of Bordeaux