Master assignments

Selective catalyst deposition in a microfluidic channel


Microfluidics is an excellent platform for catalytic research, since miniaturization brings about a number of advantages associated with the higher surface-to-volume ratio; enhanced mass and heat transport, a homogeneous reaction mixture and a relatively larger amount of catalyst is deposited on the walls, which should altogether result in overall higher process efficiency.[1] To obtain a heterogeneous catalytic microreactor, a thin layer of catalytic material has to be deposited on the microchannel walls. This layer must have sufficient catalytic surface area and be robust enough to withstand harsh reaction conditions (300 0C and 35 bar). Several methods can be used for catalyst deposition, but many of them result in a very dense layer that it is not suitable for reactions that suffers from slow kinetics. However, washcoating procedures and possibly pulsed laser deposition are able to form more porous layers, which would increase the catalytic surface area. A significant downside of the standard washcoating technique is that the complete microchannel is covered by a thin layer, making visualization of the reaction impossible. Therefore, the goal will be to coat only three sides of the channel, so the reaction can still be monitored in real-time through the glass substrate acting as a lid for the microreactor.


The overall goal of this project is to develop and optimize a method for the selective deposition of catalyst inside a microfluidic channel by either washcoating or pulsed laser deposition. Firstly, the student has to optimize parameters such as layer thickness, catalytic surface area, durability and most importantly layer adhesion.  Next, the student will test the catalytic layer with a model reaction conducted at extreme temperatures and pressures (300 0C and 35 bar).

 This project is part of the Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion consortium (MCEC), where catalytic processes for renewable energy conversion are studied on multiple scales from a multidisciplinary perspective.[2]


The student must have a background in Chemical Engineering or in Nanotechnology with a good understanding of chemistry.


  1. H. Löwe, W.Erhfeld Electrochimica Acta 1999 (44) pp. 3679-3689


Renée Ripken, PhD student, r.m.ripken
Dr. Ir. Séverine. Le Gac, s.legac
Prof. Dr. Han. Gardeniers, j.g.e.gardeniers