Nanomaterials, Catalysis, Electrochemistry


The following are research consortia and projects in which NCE is active:

  • icFlow: Continuous-flow microreactors containing immobilized photosensitizers for singlet-oxygen generation;
  • HYLIFE: Development of PEM fuel cell materials;
  • CO2GREEN: Insulating materials obtained by CO2 foaming;
  • DAO: Easy-to-clean and self-cleaning coatings;
  • TOCEP: oxidation treatment for wastewater contaminated with pharmaceuticals;
  • BATWAL: Paintable Li-ion batteries;
  • NANOMICRO: NANOparticules and MICROorganisms for soil depollution;
  • SWARM: Demonstration of Small 4-Wheel fuel cell passenger vehicle Applications in Regional and Municipal transport;
  • PHOSPHAGEL: Thin films coating, process and product development.

The following are completed projects:

  • NOVOVAL: Wallon lactic acid;
  • NANOGEL: anti-fouling coating;
  • SOMABAT: SOlid MAterials for high power Li-polymer BATteries;
  • INNOPEM: Development and validation of innovative materials for Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell elements;

icFlow (Jan 2016 - Dec 2020)

This project aims at the development of integrated continuous flow microreactors containing immobilized photosensitizers for the generation, handling and use of high concentrations of singlet oxygen in safe, convenient, highly efficient and up-scalable oxygenation processes. The success of such a project relies on the achievement of the following intermediate objectives:

  • Objective 1: Optimization of singlet oxygen production through the design and synthesis of novel photosensitizer-nanoparticle couples;
  • Objective 2: Development of coating techniques towards the preparation of photocatalytic surfaces;
  • Objective 3: Implementation of photocatalytic surfaces in continuous flow microreactors for oxygenation reactions.

Contributions of the partners to the icFlow project

Each of these objectives defines a work package, the leadership of which is left to the partner with the most relevant expertise (GRASP-Biophotonics, NCE and CiTOS for objectives 1, 2 and 3 respectively). Each of these work packages implies different areas of expertise and their successful achievement therefore requires a strong interdisciplinary interaction between the different partners. The complementarity between the different areas of expertise of the different partners is emphasized in Figure 1. The different partners own or have access to the different technologies required to conduct the project, such as (a) UV-Vis absorption and fluorescence spectrometers for the study of the coupling between the nanoparticle and the photosensitizer, (b) electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer for the measure of singlet oxygen production, (c) transmission electron and atomic force microscopy for nanoparticles characterization, (d) IR spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, gas and high performance liquid chromatographs for structural and purity analysis, (e) coating technologies such as dip-coating, spray-coating and electrodeposition for the deposition of the photocatalysts, and (f) microreactors and related technologies.

Another important aspect of this project is the development and transfer of technology and knowhow to younger scientists. This project requires two PhD students and one postdoctoral researcher to complement the workforce. Although each lab will mentor one younger researcher, their training will be multidisciplinary and they are expected to contribute in each work package.

The photocatalytic device will be designed and engineered in order to facilitate the transposition of the technology to larger production scales, either by scaling-out or numbering-up strategies. Such a device would therefore offer a technology breakthrough for medium term industrial applications, either in the pharmaceutical, fine chemical and fragrance industries for large-scale photocatalytic oxygenation reactions, opening up possibilities for follow-up financial supports.

HYLIFE (Oct 2014 - Sept 2018)

HYLIFE is the direct follow-up to the INNOPEM project. Based on previous results obtained between 2011 and 2013, the goal of HYLIFE is to further develop the PEM fuel cell materials designed in the INNOPEM project in order to increase their lifetime, and thus decrease their global cost.

The project will focus on the three constitutive elements of a PEM fuel cell: (i) the catalysts, (ii) the proton-exchange membrane and (iii) the bipolar plates. Regarding the catalysts, our research will turn towards both the modification of the chemistry/crystallinity of the support surface, and the synthesis of bimetallic core-shell (Co-Pt) nanoparticles. The catalysts will be prepared by controlled impregnation or via plasma deposition techniques. The membranes will be prepared by high pressure plasma method; part of the project is to optimize the polymer deposition technique to improve the homogeneity and the mechanical resistance of the membranes. Finally, bipolar plates will be prepared from stainless steel, which will be coated with conductive polymer films.

The project, which started on October 2014 and will last for 48 months, is financed by the Walloon region. The partners are the LGC-NCE (ULg), the Analytical and Interfacial chemistry (CHANI) service of the faculty of science from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Centre de Recherches en Physique de la Matière et du Rayonnement (PMR -LISE) of the University of Namur, Materia Nova and the Laboratoire d'Électrochimie et Physico-chimie des Matériaux et interfaces (LEPMI) of the INP-Grenoble. The project is also supported by three industrial sponsors: Arceo, Mecasoft, and Solvicore.


Region Wallone NOVOVAL is a project financed by the Walloon Region (DGO6, GREENOMAT program), dealing with the developement of new means of use of Walloon lactic acid.


  • Catalysis and chemistry of divided materials lab (CATA, Catholic University of Louvain UCL)
  • Nanomaterials, Catalysis, Electrochemistry group (NCE, University of Liège ULg)


Region Wallone CO2GREEN is a project financed by the Walloon Region (DGO6), dealing with the Synthesis of new bio- and CO2- sourced polymers for the development of insulating materials obtained by CO2 foaming


  • Center for Education and Research on Macromolecules (CERM, University of Liège ULg)
  • Nanomaterials, Catalysis, Electrochemistry group (NCE, University of Liège ULg)
  • MATERIA NOVA research center


Region Wallone DAO is a "Plan Marshall" project financed by the Walloon Region (DGO6) and industrial partners, dealing with Durable Aesthetic Outdoor and Easy-to-clean and self-cleaning coatings


  • SIRRIS research center
  • MATERIA NOVA research center
  • Analytical and interfacial chemistry lab (CHANI, University of Brussels ULB)
  • Nanomaterials, Catalysis, Electrochemistry group (NCE, University of Liège ULg)
  • LARN (University of Namur)
  • Advanced Coating & Construction Solutions (AC&CS) SCRL
  • ARCEO S.A.


AGC NANOGEL is a project financed by industrial partners about the development of a sol-gel anti-fouling coating.


  • Prayon Nanomaterials, Catalysis, Electrochemistry group (NCE, University of Liège ULg)
  • AGC Glass Europe S.A.


TOCEP is a project financed by the Walloon Region (DGO6) and research centers, dealing with the catalytic oxidation treatment for wastewater contaminated with pharmaceuticals.


  • CELABOR research center
  • CER group
  • Nanomaterials, Catalysis, Electrochemistry group (NCE, University of Liège ULg)


Region Wallone

Développement de batteries lithium-ion à peindre pour le stockage local et leur intégration dans le réseau global pour une gestion efficace de l'énergie électrique en Wallonie

The objective of the BATWAL project is the development of a new type of paintable Li-ion batteries, in order to help power producers to manage locally their production, to optimize the integration of these batteries within the domestic electrical network and to make the link with the global electrical network. Toxicity issues of these batteries in the production process as well as during their lifetime will also be addressed.

This project started in March 2014 and will last in a first phase for 30 months. The partners involved are different teams from ULg (LGC-NCE, Greenmat, Systmod), UCL (IMCN/BSMA, ICTEAM, IMCN/NAPS, LTAP), ULB (SAAS, BEAMS-ATM) and UMons (CIRMAP-SMPC). This research is further supported by Prayon, Dow Corning Europe, Umicore, BeLife, ELIA, TWEED, Greenwin, Mecatech.

The core of the BATWAL project is the development of paintable batteries, which represents a new approach in the stationary electricity storage. These paintings will be applied as successive layers containing the components of a Li-ion battery (active materials and current collectors, electrolyte and protective insulating layer). A deep fundamental research is needed in order to determine the appropriate active materials to be used and to develop optimized formulations that can be painted on a variety of supports. Indeed, the final aim is to make the deposition of these paintable batteries on various materials commonly used in the construction of buildings.

The LGC-NCE team is involved in the development of deposition techniques of the proposed formulations. These will mainly include bar-coating and spray–coating. Moreover, our team will also be responsible of the characterization of the developed materials in terms of electrochemical performances.


Region WalloneNanomicro is a "Plan Marshall project" financed jointly by the DGO6 (Région wallonne), by Sanifox and Artechno. The academic partners are the NCE group and the Centre wallon de Biologie industrielle of Gembloux Agro Bio Tech. NANOMICRO started in January 2013 for 4 years. The aim of the project is to develop new properties of metallic nanoparticles-microorganisms couples for environmental applications such as the treatment in-situ of polluted soils. The target pollutants are polyaromatic hydrocarbons.


SwarmThe project SWARM ("Demonstration of Small 4-Wheel fuel cell passenger vehicle Applications in Regional and Municipal transport"), funded by the FCH-JU, will establish a large demonstration fleet (around 100 units) of small passenger vehicles that builds on and expands existing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. Three regions participate in this effort: the British Midlands, the Brussels area and Wallonia, and the Weser-Ems region in NorthWest Germany. Each of these regions will deploy a new hydrogen refuelling site to close the gaps in a continuous "hydrogen highway" that leads from Scotland via the Midlands to London, connecting to Brussels and on to Cologne and Hamburg/Scandinavia/Berlin via Bremen.

The vehicles employed are low-cost, high fuel-efficient, hybridised, light-weight passenger cars specifically designed for city and regional transport. Their deployment regions will gain the infrastructure, public exposure and technological understanding to act as seed locations for future large scale OEM vehicle rollout.

The Department of Applied Chemistry of the University of Liège, in coordination with the Department of Aerospace and Mechanics (LTAS), participates to the project at the level of the demonstration phase, but also through research regarding the PEM stack and car monitoring. The ULg has the invaluable asset of being able to access the Spa-Francorchamps racing track. So, real-time and real-life driving tests will be performed under controlled conditions without interfering with traffic, and the driving cycles will be replicated under laboratory conditions for comparison and improvement.

The project is co-financed by the Walloon Region, on the initiative of Minister J.-C. Marcourt.


PrayonThe aim of the project is the sol-gel synthesis of oxyde and phosphate materials for thin film manufacturing in the electronics market.

In order to satisfy the needs of one of its customer in the field of electronics, Prayon S.A. is supporting a 4 years long program with the University of Liege and with the additional support of the Walloon Region (in the frame of a PPP : Partnership between Private and Public entities).

This project aims at developing low cost cathodic and electrolytic materials for Li-ion µbatteries (typically 4 V / 1 mAh capacity) that can be deposited at low temperature with a low cash intensive process leading to weak environmental impact. These materials should be used in class III RFID applications, in smart cards or even in the military or medical applications.

The project started in October 2009 and already had one IP output through a PCT patent; a second patent is pending.

The R&D strategy that has been applied has already generated results in the field of photocatalysis with some publications. Moreover, these processes have also shown applicability in the world of electro appliances.

Parts of the sol-gel development were conducted in the fields of phosphates and outputs have also shown potential applicability in the field of steel coating for functionalization.

SOMABAT (completed 2014)

Somabat The aim of (SOMABAT) (SOlid MAterials for high power Li-polymer BATteries) is to develop a more environmental friendly, safer and better performing high power Li-polymer battery by the development of novel breakthrough recyclable solid materials to be used as anode, cathode and solid polymer electrolyte, new alternatives to recycle the different components of the battery and cycle life analysis.

This challenge will be achieved by using new low-cost synthesis and processing methods, in which it is possible to tailor the different properties of the materials. Development of novel synthetic and recyclable materials will respond to the very ambitious challenge of adequate energy density, lifetime and safety. Among these new materials, all the main components of the battery will be addressed, i.e. carbon based hybrid anodes, novel LiFePO4 and LiFeMnPO4 based nanocomposite cathodes with conductive polymers or carbons, and highly conductive electrolyte membranes with porous architecture based on fluorinated matrices with nanosized particles and others based on a series of polyphosphate and polyphosphonate polymers.

An assessment and test of the potential recyclability and revalorization of the battery components and a life cycle assessment of the cell will allow the development of a more environmental friendly Li-polymer battery, in which 50% weight of the battery will be recyclable and the final cost will be reduced to 150€/KWh.

The expertise of our group in the synthesis of porous carbon xerogels with tailorable textural properties is turned to good account in the development of the new anode materials. In particular, xerogels obtained via different synthesis conditions will lead to materials with tunable textural properties that will be tested regarding capacity, conductivity and cycling stability. The team also collaborates with the other partners in the design of C/C and C/Metal composites with a wide range of structural, chemical and textural properties in order to improve the Li-insertion and cycling behavior.

INNOPEM (completed 2014)

Region WalloneThe INNOPEM projects aims at developing innovative fabrication processes and new materials for PEM (Proton Exchange membrane) fuel cell components. The goal is to obtain components with better interfacial characteristics at reduced cost. The target components are the three main components of the PEM fuel cell, i.e. the catalyst, the membrane and the bipolar plates; indeed, the cost-to-lifetime ratio of these components is still the main hurdle towards PEM fuel cell large scale development, for instance in automotive applications.

The research consortium includes four partners: the Laboratory of Chemical Engineering – Catalytic Engineering of the University of Liège, the Analytical and Interfacial chemistry (CHANI) service of the faculty of science from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Centre de Recherches en Physique de la Matière et du Rayonnement (PMR -LISE) of the University of Namur, and ARCEO s.a. The project lies on the very complementary skills and original contributions of the four partners: (1) the development of new metal or alloy catalysts supported on nanostructured carbons that allow an optimal use of precious metals (ULg-LGC); (2) the synthesis of new sulfonated and fluorinated membranes as well as metal nanoparticles on carbon supports by atmospheric plasma process (ULB-CHANI); the preparation of hybrid carbon-metal materials by plasma process and the characterization of interfaces (PMR-LISE); (4) the development of coated stainless steel via vacuum processes (plasma and evaporation) as alternative to graphite bipolar plates (ARCEO s.a.).

The new materials are tested in monocell PEM assemblies on instrumented fuel cell test bench so as to measure and validate their performances at the beginning of use and after ageing. The main foreseen result consists in a complete PEM cell including the three new optimized components, the cost of which would be significantly decreased with regards to today’s elements.