• The University of Western Australia (M050), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile

Biography

Neil is a physical chemist working at the interface between physics, chemistry and engineering. Neil completed his PhD thesis at the University of Cambridge on the applications of novel nuclear magnetic resonance techniques in surface science and heterogeneous catalysis, and is currently extending these methods to study gas and liquid dynamics within porous materials of importance to the energy and environment nexus.

In May 2022 Neil took up a prestigious three-year Forrest Research Foundation Fellowship, where he will focus on the design, synthesis, characterisation and application of novel spin coversion materials for applications in hydrogen liquefaction and beyond. More details can be found here and below.

 

UWA Impact Articles:

2020: Making biodiesel from dirty old cooking oil just got easier

2022: UWA researcher to represent Australia at Nobel Laureate meeting

2022: New Forrest Research Foundation Fellows to drive discovery in WA

2023: Magnetic resonance analysis of cement materials delivers hard evidence for industry

 

Funding overview

Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence, 2023 - 2033

Green Electrochemical Transformation of Carbon Dioxide”, 45 Chief, Partner and Associate Investigators, including Dr Neil Robinson (UWA; Associate Investigator); $35million.

Australia Research Council Discovery Project, 2023 - 2026

Hydrogen Cold Energy”, Prof Michael Johns (UWA; Chief Investigator), Dr Saif Al Ghafri (UWA; Chief Investigator) and Dr Neil Robinson (UWA; Chief Investigator); $605,000.

University of Western Australia Research Collaboration Award, 2023

Screening Catalytic Porous Solids for Hydrogen Transport Applications”, Dr Neil Robinson (UWA; Lead Chief Investigator), Dr Christian Reece (Harvard University; Chief Investigator) and Prof Michael Johns (UWA; Chief Investigator); $29,980.

Forrest Research Foundation Fellowship, 2022 - 2025

A Quantum Spin on Clean Energy: Catalysing the Hydrogen Revolution”, Dr Neil Robinson (UWA; Personal Fellowship); $450,000.

University of Western Australia Research Collaboration Award, 2020

Low-field NMR Characterisation of Next-Generation Graphene Catalysts”, Dr Neil Robinson (UWA; Lead Chief Investigator), Dr Carmine D’Agostino (University of Manchester; Chief Investigator) and Prof Michael Johns (UWA; Chief Investigator); $30,000.

Research

Forrest Fellow (2022 - present)

Fluid Science and Resources Research Group, Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Forrest Fellowships are the most competitive Early Career Fellowships in Australia (eligibility criteria ≤ 2-years post-PhD). My research projects span the design and characterisation of functional porous materials for energy, environment and societal applications, with primary focus placed on the development of novel hydrogen nuclear spin conversion materials, which are critical for the efficient liquefaction of low carbon hydrogen for large scale export.

Key publications:

"NMR Surface Relaxivity in a Time-Dependent Porous System", N Robinson et al., Physical Review Letters, 2023, 130, 126204

"Functional Group Resolved NMR Relaxation of 3-carbon Adsorbates in Mesoporous Alumina", N Robinson et al., Magnetic Resonance Letters, 2023

Postdoctoral Research Associate (2019 - 2022)

Fluid Science and Resources Research Group, Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Research duties involved the design and application of novel low-field nuclear magnetic resonance measurements to understand fluid behaviour inside porous materials of relevance to the energy-environment nexus. Systems of interest include heterogeneous catalysts for the upgrading of waste biomass, microporous sorbents for the separation and storage of valuable gases, and hydrating cement materials. I successfully performed the first such measurements on spatially orthogonal catalysts for the production of biodiesel from waste cooking oils, and provided the first demonstration of such methods to screen the gas admission capabilities of microporous zeolites.

Supervisor: Professor Michael L. Johns FIChemE

Key publications:

"Low-field Functional Group Resolved Nuclear Spin Relaxation in Mesoporous Silica", N Robinson et al., ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2021, 45, 54476

"Pore Structure Evolution of Cemented Paste Backfull Observed with Two-Dimensional NMR Relaxation Correlation Measurements", N Robinson et al., Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2021, 36, 13253

"Nuclear Spin Relaxation as a Probe of Zeolite Acidity: a Combined NMR and TPD Investigation of Pyridine in HZSM-5", N Robinson et al., Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2021, 23, 17752

"A Spatially Orthogonal Hierarchically Porous Acid-Base Catalyst for Cascade and Antagonisitic Reactions", MA Isaacs, CMA Parlett, N Robinson et al., Nature Catalysis, 2020, 3, 921

"Low-field NMR Relaxation-Exchange Measurements for the Study of Gas Admission in Microporous Solids", N Robinson et al., Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2020, 22, 13689

PhD Research Student (2014 - 2019)

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

My PhD developed new methods to non-invasively characterise surface interaction phenomena in porous media. Most notably this involved the first direct comparison of nuclear spin relaxation experiments with molecular modelling, resulting in the first observation that relaxation may be used as a quantitative probe of the strength of adsorption interactions occurring within liquid-saturated porous media. This finding has particularly important implications for the evaluation and comparison of solvent behaviour in heterogeneous catalysts and has since been translated to industry.

Supervisors: Dr Carmine D’Agostino and Professor Stephen J. Jenkins

Key publications:

"NMR Investigation into the Influence of Surface Interactions on Liquid Diffusion in a Mesoporous Catalyst Support", N Robinson et al., Topics in Catalysis, 2019, 63, 319

"Unravelling Mass Transport in Hierarchically Porous Catalysts", MA Isaacs, N Robinson et al., Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2019, 7, 11814

"Direct Correlation between Adsorption Energetics and Nuclear Spin Relaxation in a Liquid-Saturated Catalyst Material", N Robinson et al., ChemPhysChem, 2018, 19, 2472

MChem Final Year Project Research Student (2014)

Cardiff Catalysis Institute, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Research project combined surface microscopy and molecular modelling to uncover the adhesion mechanism of gold nanoparticles on carbon surfaces. This knowledge is of importance in the design of solid catalysts to produce PVC-plastic.

Supervisor: Dr David J. Willock

Key publications:

"The Functionalisation of Graphite Surfaces wuith Nitric Acid: Identification of Functional Groups and the Effects on Gold Deposition", Burgess et al., Journal of Catalysis, 2015, 323, 10

"Spectroscopic and Atomic Force Studies of the Functionalisation of Carbon Surfaces: New Insights into the role of the Surface Topography and Specific Surface States", Buono et el., Faraday Discussions, 2014, 173, 257 

 

Engagement

International

2023: Commonwealth Chemistry ECR poster event Scientific Organising Committee member, invited judge and Chair of the SDG7: Affordable & Clean Energy session

2023 - present: Commonwealth Chemistry Early Career Committee representative for the Pacific Region

2023: Energy Panel Member and Invited Speaker for the 2023 Australia-India Chamber of Commerce Conference

2023: RACI delegate, Australian representative and speaker at the 2nd Commonwealth Chemistry Congress

2022 - present: Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Hydrogen Technology Section Technical Program Lead for the Eastern Hemisphere

2022: Australian Academy of Science delegate and Australian representative at the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

2021: Invited contribution (20 min lecture) to the one-day online Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) workshop on “Pioneering New Developments in NMR for Materials Analysis”

2021: Invited contribution (3x 2h lectures) to a two-day online workshop to industrial and academic researchers in the Middle East, covering applications of magnetic resonance in characterising porous rock formations.

 

National:

2022 - present Future Energy Exports CRC Annual Three Minute Thesis Competition Organiser and lead judge, including establishing the CRC as an official participating institution of 3MT™.

2022 - present: Future Energy Exports CRC Annual Conference Organising Committee Member.

 

Local:

2022 - present: Forrest Research Foundation Communications Committee Member

2022: UWA Postgraduate Union Research Week Guest Judge (Engineering and Physics talks)

2022: UWA Science Union Careers Night Invited Keynote Speaker & Industry Night Panel Member

2022 - present: UWA Fluid Science & Resources Research Group Laboratory Supervisor. Lead contact for operational and safety aspects of the group’s extensive AU$2.1million laboratory facilities within the Australian Resources Research Centre.

2022: Featured in an online University of Western Australia video interview to promote my selection to participate in the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Chemistry.

2021: Featured on 6PR Radio Perth to discuss hydrogen energy and scientific research in WA.

2021 - present: Member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute WA Branch Analytical Chemistry Group Committee.

2020 - present: UWA Fluid Science & Resources Research Group Magnetic Resonance and Porous Materials Section Lead.

2020: Appeared on the Noongar Radio Drivetime show to discuss using catalysts to produce renewable liquid fuels from waste biomass.

Teaching overview

CHPR2022: Solutions for Sustainable Future Energy

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Education/Academic qualification

Chemical Engineering, PhD, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 25 Jan 2020

Chemistry, MChem(Hons) with Year in Industry, Cardiff University

External positions

Visiting Rowland Fellow, Harvard University

Nov 2023

Chair, WA Analytical Group, The Royal Australian Chemical Institute

Aug 2023 → …

Pacific Region Representative, Commonwealth Chemistry

Jul 2023 → …

Director & Technical Program Chair (Eastern Hemisphere), Hydrogen Technical Section (H2TS), Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE

Nov 2022 → …

Strategic Research Fellow, Future Energy Exports CRC FEnEX

Aug 2022 → …

Fellow, Forrest Research Foundation

May 2022May 2025

Industry keywords

  • Energy
  • Environmental
  • Mining and Resources

Research expertise keywords

  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Energy
  • Porous media
  • Diffusion
  • Adsorption
  • Hydrogen

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