IAS Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Rodrigo de Oliveira, State University of Paraiba, Brazil

FTBMVP Rodrigo de OliveiraUse of polyphosphates to modify clay soils: A new tool for tackling a fast-approaching global food crisis

12 April - 9 May 2017

Dr de Oliveira is an assistant professor at the State University of Paraiba (UEPB, Brazil). He has expertise in inorganic hydrogel synthesis, dielectric characterization of solid materials and photochemistry for nanomaterials preparation. He obtained BSc and PhD in chemistry at the Federal University of Pernambuco (Prof. Andre Galembeck) with a sandwich period at the University of Bristol (Prof. Julian Eastoe). His work on inorganic hydrogels started with a focus on hybrid systems for elecrochemical capacitors, hybrid polyaniline-polyphospate gels. His PhD thesis concerned new photoreactive surfactants for nanoparticle synthesis, looking for economy of atoms in this kind of reaction.

After starting as an Assistant Professor in the state of Paraiba, his research interest changed to fundamental and applied reserach on new materials that can mitigate common problems in poor regions of Brazil, such as the North East.  The two main research interests are catalytic nanofoams for environmental remediation and polyphosphate modified clay systems for intelligent fertilization. The nanofoams are made with recycled polystyrene and doped with nanocatalysts. These new materials re-use an emerging pollutant, polystyrene, making it the porous support for metal  and metal oxide nanocatalysts for organic pollutant remediation through redox processes.

The second research line deals with the challenge of making fertilization greener.  Around 40-60% of applied nutrients are lost in soil by leaching, and controlled release fertilizers (CRFs) are greatly needed.  Our group aims to make  new CRFs using natural clays from North East Brazil, by modifying them with polyphosphates. These new materials are designed to release nutrients in the soil leaving only natural clay as the by product, thus avoiding environmental pollution. Major funding has been awarded by the National Reserach Council (CNPq), while UEPB supports reserach of undergraduate students with a small grant.

Dr de Oliveira's visit is supported by the Institute for Advanced Studies and the Cabot Institute

During his stay in Bristol, Dr de Oliveira will be hosted by Dr Jeroen van Duijneveldt (Chemistry)