Joint Centers of Excellence Program

Engineered metal nanoparticles for direct vapour phase propylene oxide synthesis from propylene

Olefin oxides are the key precursors to surfactants and polymers. Whilst significant success has been seen for the direct epoxidation of ethylene in industry, the direct epoxidation of higher olefins suffers from low yields and poor selectivities. Current commercial production circumvents these problems by utilising multi-stage processes, which are hindered by the high cost of additives or large scale of toxic by-products.
This project sets out to enhance the selectivity and yield of the epoxidation of higher olefins, mainly propylene as the focus of this research, via a cleaner, by-product free, direct oxidation route to its oxide. Also, we aim to gain an understanding of the fundamental mechanism leading to efficient catalytic epoxidation of propylene through;
• understanding of metal support interactions,
• role(s) of sub surface oxygen,
• and light induced plasmonic enhancement.

The projects centres in the groups of Dr Abdulaziz A. Bagabas (KACST) and Professor Edman Tsang (Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford).