Prof E. Gaigneaux / Prof D. Debecker


Our laboratory is specialised in the study of heterogeneous catalysis, more specifically in the preparation and characterisation of divided solids and catalysts, and in the control of the reactivity of solids.  
Our topics of excellence are : 

      - The preparation of complex oxide phases (multiphase catalysts with a controlled architecture) with precise properties: texture, particle size, dispersion, quality and number of contacts between the various components (oxygen donor / acceptor), morphology, cooperation between phases (list of the catalysts).      

      - The scaling-up and preparation of structured catalysts on ceramic, metal and carbon supports.  Surface modification of the supports and active phases deposition on their surface.

2. The characterisation of catalysts of complex composition and texture, by means of a great number of physico-chemical techniques which allow to study their structure, texture, surface and morphology; possibly in situ and operando. 
3. The measurement of catalytic performance in various reactions in the fields of petrochemistry, environment, biomass, fine chemistry, to establish correlations between properties/performances, deactivation/regeneration/recyclability, surface dynamics/operando; to optimize formulation/operating conditions/doping.  

Our laboratory is open to providing physico-chemical characterisation services to enterprises.  The list of these services is available upon request. 

 For further information, please contact Prof Eric GAIGNEAUX / Prof Damien DEBECKER


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- mechanisms
- coupling effects
- effect of gaseous dopes
- dynamic behavior of catalysts
- deactivation of catalysts

- Supports (silica, alumina, alumina-titania, silica-titania, ceria-zirconia, activated carbon, etc.)
- Mixed oxides : multicomponent, multiphase catalysts
- High surface area oxynitrides
- Dispersed materials (noble metals)
- Supports and catalysts from natural minerals
- Zeolites (modifications: nitridation)
- Model catalysts (thin films and monocrystals)
- Hybrid catalysts: - polymer + inorganic species
- Immobilized enzymes
- Macro-, meso- and microporous catalysts

- Impregnation, co-precipitation, complexation (citrate method), grafting, sol-gel, deposition-precipitation, ion exchange, micro-emulsion
- Activation of catalysts
- Aerosol process
- Non-hydrolytic sol-gel

- Equipment for all kinds of powder preparation at lab scale (1 Kg)
- Equipment for pilot scale (co)-precipitation – filtering – calcination
- Extrusion and pelletization
- Aeromatic bench-scale equipment for impregnation, drying and granulation

SPECTROSCOPIES- Infrared spectrometers (FTIR & DRIFT) including catalytic cell interfaced with a MS for operando experiments and facility to adsorb probe molecules
- FT Raman spectrometer with NIR laser
- Dispersive Raman spectrometer with green laser
- X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS): double (Al and Mg) anode and monochromatic Al anode, argon etching, catalyst cell for pseudo-in situ experiments, cooling in preparation analysis chamber, imagery ; 2nd instrument with microfocussed monochromatized X-ray beam.
- Wide angle X-ray diffractometer WA-XRD for powder and film analysis, including high temperature (1600°C) cell for in situ experiments
- Ion Spectroscopy TOF-SIMS
- UV-Vis Spectroscopy

- Atomic force microscope AFM – STM – LFM
- Confocal Raman Microscope with red, green and NIR lasers
- Transmission TEM, Field Emission Scanning or Environmental Electron Microscopies FEG-SEM or FEG-SEM with X-ray spectr. EDX

- Specific surface area and micro- and mesopore size measurements
- Chemisorption measurement (NH3, CO, O2, H3)
- Temperature programmed techniques: TPD-TPR-TPO
- High temperature TGA-DTA  (1700°C)

- Selective oxidation and oxidative dehydrogenation of alkanes, olefins, alcohols
- Ammoxidation of olefins and alkanes
- Ammonia synthesis
- Dehydration of lactic acid
- Esterification of polyols with fatty and volatile acids
* Fine chemistry
- Suzuki C-Csp2 coupling
- Base catalyzed reactions (aldolic condensation)
- Enantioselective transamination
Environment (air and water treatments)
- Total oxidation of organic compounds: VOC, methane, chlorinated compounds, dioxins; DeNOx
- CO2 activation: methanation
* Catalytic combustion and energy production
- Development of catalytic burners
- Hydrogen production from light hydrocarbons and alcohols 


Research expertise


Research expertise

Preparation of mixed oxide catalysts (bulk and supported) and of sulfides; multicomponent catalysts; multiphases: acid and base catalysts, redox catalysts.


  • high specific surface area oxynitrides
  • supported noble metals catalysts, perovskites, hexaaluminates
  • model catalysts (oxides, noble metals etc.) (thin films)
  • heteropolyacids
  • bio-catalysts

Preparation methods

  • impregnation, grafting, coprecipitation, citrate method, sol-gel, micro-emulsion
  • catalysts activation
  • functionalisation of the support surface: deposition of active phases on monoliths
  • non-hydrolytic sol-gel
  • aerosol processing
  • enzyme immobilisation


  • "Scaling-up": study of scale transposition (size and form), extrusion, pelletizing

Study of catalytic reactions

  • selective oxidation
  • selective dehydrogenation of parafins, olefins, alcohols
  • hydrocarbons ammoxidation
  • total oxidation of organic compounds: VOC, methane, chlorinated compounds (dioxins)
  • acid catalysed reactions (hydroisomerisation), esterifications
  • base catalysed reactions (condensation, i-butane and i-pentane dehydrogenation), transesterifications
  • hydrogen production from methane, ethane, propane, butane, methanol, ethanol: partial oxidation, steam and dry reforming
  • catalytic combustion of methane, ethane, propane, butane; heat production via catalytic combustion (catalytic burner)
  • decarboxylation reactions
  • selective reactions of organic molecules (fine chemistry)
  • hydrodesulfuration, hydrodenitrogenation, hydrodeoxigenation
  • olefin metathesis
  • bio-fuel synthesis via fatty acids esterification

Characterisations of complex composition divided solids

Concepts: study of the reaction mechanisms

  • dynamic reactions at the catalysts surface
  • gaseous dopes effects in the feed
  • Deactivation and regeneration of catalysts
  • In-situ study of catalysts (operando)