• Room 01.412 - David Keir Building

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Development of ionic liquids for sustainable and green chemistry applied to catalysis, separations, and energy applications. - Use of neutron scattering/isotopic substitution to study disordered (liquid and glassy) materials.

1993 …2019
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Personal profile

Research Focus

Green chemistry (https://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry) is fundamental to our approach to science: We should reduce the generation of waste materials or energy, and efforts have to be directed towards the use of cleaner, more efficient chemical transformations and into the design and development of sustainable materials and manufacturing processes so that we do not unduly deplete or contaminate our available resources.

My research focuses on exploring how ionic liquids can be used in green chemical and engineering processes. This involves design, synthesis, measurement and then (hopefully) translation of this knowledge into delivery of useful results.

Achievements

I completed my PhD studies with Joyce Lockhart at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne on the preparation of steroidal bioconjugated Tc-99m complexes as heart imaging agents., before undertaking postdoctoral positions with Duncan Bruce (at Sheffield University) and Klaus Praefcke (Technical University, Berlin) working on lyotropic and thermotropic platinum group metallomesogens. He then moved to Queen’s University Belfast, to work with Prof Ken Seddon on used of ionic liquids in industrial green and sustainable chemistry in 1996. After four years as a staff scientist at the University of Alabama (with Robin Rogers) he returned to Belfast to work on industry funded programs first with BP and then with PETRONAS, and was appointed Lecturer in Chemistry in 2011 and Professor in 2019.

I have published over 120 publications (cited over 16,000 times, h-index 57) and was placed at number 59 in the world in the 2011 Times Higher Education Supplement’s rankings of the top chemists of the past decade.

Our work largely centres on trying to determine where ionic liquids have a role addressing chemical and process problems in new and more effective ways. Highlights have included:

  • Greener, more sustainable chemistry and processing: The first report on ionic liquid solvents for cellulose (JACS 2002, 124, 4974-4975) promoted unprecedented interest in the use of ionic liquids in bio-resource processing and lead to the US EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2005.
  • Extraction and separations processes: Mercury from gas and oil In partnership with PETRONAS, we targeted the design of ionic liquids as solvents to capture mercury from oil and gas feeds. The worlds first commercialised supported ionic liquid process, Hycapure-HgTM, was developed for mercury capture with the first full-scale commercial trial started in October 2011. QUILL (the Queen’s University Ionic Liquids Laboratory) and PETRONAS won three global IChemE awards for Outstanding Achievement in Chemical and Process Engineering, Sustainable Technology, and Chemical Engineering Project of the Year in 2013 for this technology. We also were awarded the 2014 IChemE Nicklin medal and RSC Chemistry Technology Innovation Award in 2014. Continuing studies, including operando EXAFS at the Diamond Light Source have revealed even more detail into the mercury capture processes.
  • Aromatic extraction and sensing with ionic liquids We have ionic liquids that respond with a colour change to the presence of polyaromatic molecules such as naphthalene, forming brightly coloured charge-transfer complexes. We have also found that the ionic liquids can be readily incorporated into porous silica ionogels, forming robust glassy solids which still respond in the same way in contact with aromatic molecules. Ongoing interest to see whether these materials can be used for sensing or dearomatisation of fuels.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where John Holbrey is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Projects 2012 2018

Research Output 1993 2019

choline
Neutron diffraction
glycerols
Choline
eutectics
Neutron Diffraction
Ionic Liquids
Propane
imides
Neutron diffraction

Thermal Properties of Choline Chloride/Urea System Studied under Moisture-Free Atmosphere

Gilmore, M., Swadzba-Kwasny, M. & Holbrey, J. D., 05 Nov 2019, In : Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data. 64, 12, p. 5248-5255 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Choline
Urea
Eutectics
Moisture
Thermodynamic properties
15 Citations (Scopus)
576 Downloads (Pure)

A comparison of choline:urea and choline:oxalic acid deep eutectic solvents at 338 K

Gilmore, M., Moura, L., Turner, A., Swadzba-Kwasny, M., Callear, S., McCune, J. A., Scherman, O. A. & Holbrey, J., 12 Feb 2018, In : Journal of Chemical Physics. 148, 10 p., 193823.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
File
Oxalic Acid
choline
oxalic acid
Choline
ureas
3 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access
File
Imides
Ionic Liquids
imides
Neutron diffraction
neutron diffraction

Datasets

Solvation and structure of lithium in bis{(trifluoromethyl)sulfonyl}imide based ionic liquids

Holbrey, J. (Creator), Jacquemin, J. (Creator), Hardacre, C. (Creator), Dunckley, H. (Creator), Youngs, T. (Creator), STFC ISIS, 2012

Dataset

Understanding the effect of pressure on ionic liquid structure

Holbrey, J. (Creator), Hardacre, C. (Creator), Norman, S. (Creator), Youngs, T. (Creator), STFC ISIS, 2011

Dataset

Speciation and complex-ion formation in protic ionic liquids

Imberti, S. (Creator), Holbrey, J. (Creator), Turner, A. (Creator), Swadzba-Kwasny, G. (Creator), STFC ISIS, 2015

Dataset

Speciation and complex-ion formation in protic ionic liquids

Holbrey, J. (Creator), McCune, J. A. (Creator), Coleman, F. (Creator), Youngs, T. (Creator), Turner, A. (Creator), Swadzba-Kwasny, G. (Creator), STFC ISIS, 01 Mar 2016

Dataset

Activities 2009 2019

Design and Implementation of Ionic Liquids Derived Catalysts in Organic Reactions

John Holbrey (Examiner)
15 May 2019

Activity: Examination typesPhD external examination

The Study of N-Heterocyclic Carbenes (NHCs) in Ionic Liquids

John Holbrey (Examiner)
22 Feb 2019

Activity: Examination typesPhD external examination

UK Neutron and Muon Science and User Meeting

John Holbrey (Participant)
29 Apr 201901 May 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

John Holbrey (Participant), Gareth Nelson (Participant)
15 Nov 201818 Nov 2018

Activity: Visiting an external institution typesResearch and Teaching at External Organisation

Inorganic Ireland Symposium 2018

John Holbrey (Participant)
17 Dec 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Thesis

Chemical recycle of polyester waste using novel zwitterionic catalysts

Author: Wang, L., 2019

Supervisor: Holbrey, J. (Supervisor) & Swadzba-Kwasny, G. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters

File

Chemical Treatment Approaches For Industrial Plant Decontamination: Mercury remedation

Author: Liu, Y., 04 Dec 2017

Supervisor: Atkins, M. (Supervisor) & Holbrey, J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters

File

Preparation of green non-ionic surfactants from 2,3-epoxy-1-propanol

Author: Han, J., 31 Oct 2017

Supervisor: Atkins, M. (Supervisor) & Holbrey, J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMasters

File