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Ulla Gro Nielsen



How can we design sustainable materials to ensure clean water? How do we convert waste products to resources? These are some of the environmental challenges that we need to address in order to ensure a sustainable society.

My research group  synthesizes functional materials inspired by minerals, which in nature bind heavy metals or act as ion exchangers. We determine their properties in the lab, and with that knowledge we design new materials and understand the chemical processes in the environment. Currently, our research focus on understanding how the chemical structure of materials determines their properties to remove phosphate and heavy metals in contaminated water. One of our projects aim to produce a reusable filter material that can recover phosphate from wastewater. This will ultimately provide us with sustainable fertilizer products thereby transforming an environmental problem in wastewater into a resource.

Advanced methods such as NMR spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, IR spectroscopy and electron microscopy give us a detailed insight into the structure of materials from the interaction between atoms to the individual particles in a sample. In particular, NMR spectroscopy gives us chemical information about the structure of everything from organic molecules, pharmaceuticals, catalysts, minerals to energy materials, and we continually develop our analysis methods to get the best information about the new materials we work on.

Many aspects of the chemistry come into play in our research projects including inorganic, physical, analytical, environmental, and materials chemistry. We therefore collaborate with the municipal water centers and industrial companies in Denmark, as well as researchers within geology, chemistry, physics, biology and engineering throughout the World.