Functional porous materials underpin a vast range of critical chemical processes, ranging from fuel storage and
sustainable building material formulation, to pollution abatement and the production of materials and chemicals from renewable resources. The underlying chemical and physical processes associated with such applications are a direct result of the interactions of these porous structures with fluids (gases, and/or liquids) via their encapsulation, surface adhesion, and/or chemical reaction. Despite their ubiquity and high industrial and socioeconomic importance, however, notable knowledge gaps remain regarding the properties of fluids confined within such materials. Indeed, the characterisation of chemical reaction and interaction phenomena occurring within the void spaces of optically opaque porous structures remains one of the most significant challenges in physical science and engineering, requiring measurement approaches with the ability to reliability discriminate between molecules interacting with the interface(s) of interest, and the surrounding solid and fluid components. This talk will provide an introductory overview of the application of nuclear spin relaxation measurements to such problems, which provide a versatile, non-invasive and chemically selective approach with which to characterise fluid interactions within porous solids, and may be implemented under operando pressure and temperature conditions of direct relevance to industrial chemical processes. Such measurements have been employed by the rock physics and hydrocarbon recovery community for over five decades, but their application to well-defined functional porous materials has until now been extremely limited. Correspondingly, this talk will highlight recent applications of nuclear spin relaxation to materials of relevance to catalysis, gas process engineering and construction. This talk will then highlight emerging applications in the hydrogen energy space where the understanding of nuclear spin dynamics at solid surfaces will be critical for efficient and largescale hydrogen storage and transportation.
Dr Neil Robinson is a physical chemist and chemical engineer, who is currently a Research Fellow within the Fluid Science and Resources Research Group at the University of Western Australia. He received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, following which he relocated to UWA to work with Prof Mike Johns on magnetic resonance based methods to characterise functional porous materials of importance to the energy-environment nexus. In 2022 he was awarded a three-year Forrest Research Foundation Fellowship, during which he aims to extend these methods to the study and development of porous materials necessary for efficient hydrogen transportation. Dr Robinson has received multiple national and international awards including the 2022 Australian National Measurement Institute (NMI) Prize, and over $1million in competitive research funding, including a 2023 ARC Discovery Project grant. He was a finalist in both the 2021 and 2022 IChemE Global Awards and represented Australia at the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
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