In this work, methanol-to-hydrocarbons, biomass-upgrading reactions and plastic conversion are studied over zeolite catalysts, using vibrational spectroscopy to give mechanistic insight. Raman Spectroscopy can identify carbonaceous surface species during catalysis, though in many cases strong emission from the laser interacting with the sample causes intense fluorescence which prevents collection of Raman signals. This work uses a novel technique, combining a visible wavelength source (400 nm) with a Kerr-gated spectrometer allowing for the Raman signal to be separated from fluorescence according to their different lifetimes. The Kerr-gated spectrometer is part of the Central Facilities at ULTRA, of the Central Laser Facility, at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories. Using this technique, intermediate species in reactions have been identified and are related with concurrent catalytic activity, to understand their roles in the catalytic mechanism.
Emma Campbell has been working as a core PDRA at the Catalysis Hub since August 2021, and works closely with the Central Laser Facility to use their Kerr-gated Raman and fluorescence lifetime techniques to characterise catalytic intermediates in reaction mechanisms. Her current projects include studying propane dehydrogenation and chemical recycling of end-of-life plastics. Emma completed her PhD in 2021 through UCL under the supervision of Prof Andrew M Beale and Dr Inés Lezcano-Gonzalez, studying mechanisms in zeolite catalysts using vibrational spectroscopies, and received her MChem Chemistry degree in 2015 from Cardiff University.