My principle research interests lie in the field of heterogeneous catalysis, with a particular emphasis on how activity and selectivity of hydrogenation catalysts (typically supported metals) can be manipulated by careful design. This can be achieved by a number of methods which include:
- Alloy formation and controlling surface composition
- Modifying surface properties by adsorption of organic ligands
- Incorporation of an inorganic element to change the structure (i.e., Pd + S)
Prepared catalysts can be characterised by a number of different techniques which range from routine (i.e., XRD, microscopy, physisorption or chemisorption) to more specialised (i.e., in-situ FTIR, temperature programmed methods and XAS). Catalyst performance is then evaluated by testing in either the liquid or gas phase at either ambient or elevated pressure/temperature. The most common reaction of interest is the selective hydrogenation of an alkyne to an alkene without over-hydrogenation to the alkane. This is a process of importance with regards to polymer production (i.e., polyethylene or polypropylene) and commodity chemicals in a number of areas. Other reactions of interest include Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and the preparation of alkenes from unconventional routes.
Standout papers to date include:
- Selective hydrogenation of mixed alkyne/alkene streams at elevated pressure over a palladium sulfide catalyst. A.J. McCue, A. Guerrero-Ruiz, C. Ramirez-Barria, I. Rodriguez-Ramos and J.A. Anderson. Journal of Catalysis, 355 (2017) 40-52.
- Quantification and qualification by in-situ FTIR of species formed on supported-cobalt catalysts during the Fischer-Tropsch reaction. A.I. McNab, A.J. McCue, D. Dionisi and J.A. Anderson. Journal of Catalysis, 353 (2017) 286-294.
- Palladium sulphide - A highly selective catalyst for gas phase hydrogenation of alkynes to alkenes. A.J. McCue, A. Guerrero-Ruiz, I. Rodriguez-Ramos and J.A. Anderson. Journal of Catalysis, 340 (2016) 10-16.
- Cu/Al2O3 catalyts modified with Pd for selective hydrogenation. A.J. McCue, C.J. McRitchie, A.M. Shepherd and J.A. Anderson. Journal of Catalysis, 319 (2014) 127-135.
I currently coordinate our Oil & Gas Masters programme and teach on the following courses:
CM1522 - Elements of Chemistry 2
CM4518 - Advanced Chemistry 3 (Catalysis)
CM4521 - Intregrated Chemistry
CM5535 - Chemistry of Refinery and Natural Gas Processes
CM5536 - Flow Assuracne and Oil Field Chemicals
CM5537 - Applied Analytical and Instrumental Methods
EG551Y - Oil and Gas Chemistry
- Further Info
I like to be heavily involved in public engagement. Activities include the ever popular 'flashes and bangs chemistry demonstrations' which can be conducted by either visiting schools or hosting schools on campus (optimum age group P4-P7 and S1-S2). I've also been involved in other activities including school workshops (aimed at S4-S6 pupils) and the recent 'Explorathon' evening when I delivered a Cafe' Scientifique session on making 'plastic bags from crude oil'.
These activities have been kindly supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry and the University of Aberdeen's PERU fund. A number of individuals have contributed over the years and include Dr Laurent Tremblau, Dr Peter Henderson, Dr Andrew McNab, Dr Tom Majchrowski, Chris Wildi, Ewan Forsyth and Kirsty Rickaby. Some links and pictures from events are shown below. Please get in contact if you would like more information.