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Chemistry for Sustainability

We use coordination chemistry to tackle societal issues ranging from the elimination of plastic waste and CO2 levels to the development of new metal-based agents for use in medical imaging and anti-cancer therapy.

Professor Carl Redshaw
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Professor Carl Redshaw
Professor of Inorganic Materials Chemistry and REF Lead for Chemistry

The Challenge

Chemistry is central to the manufacture of much of what we use in everyday life. By manipulating the structure of known compounds or by designing new compounds, it is possible to manufacture new materials with enhanced properties. We are using this strategy to make environmentally friendly materials, some of which are use CO2 as a feedstock.

Environmental monitoring traditionally relies on samples being taken by a specialist and brought to laboratory facility for analysis. Data we have available is often rather sporadic and we know little about trends and dynamics of geochemicals, nutrients and pollutants in our environment.

The Approach

The approach is a collaborative research with Chemistry at the heart of all activities. Chemistry is the vital discipline thanks to which novel plastics are created.

We use coordination chemistry to tackle societal issues ranging from the elimination of plastic waste and CO2 levels to the development of new metal-based agents for use in medical imaging and anti-cancer therapy. This is accomplished by manipulating the environment surrounding various metal centres both in terms of the sterics and the electronics of the metal bound ligands present.

Chemists in Hull are also developing new analysis methods to measure and monitor levels of geochemicals, nutrients, and pollutants in the environment, often working with Citizen Scientists.



We have created new biodegradable plastics as alternatives to traditional plastics, which take centuries to degrade. We have also established links with the circular economy . We hope our research will contribute to a better environment by designing.

We are developing chemical analysis systems for monitoring on-site. High-frequency chemical sensing will allow us to develop a fundamental understanding of the fate of pollutants in our surroundings. Together with computer scientists we can start to predict trends and decide where to deploy mitigation efforts.



  • New catalysts for green chemistry
  • New biodegradable polymers underpinning a circular economy for plastics.
  • Chemical monitoring in the environment with deployable automated sensors
  • Simple workflows to monitor nutrients and pollutant with Citizen Scientists


Water droplet

Sullied Sediments

Chemicals found in household products, including toothpaste, soaps and common drugs are threatening Britain's waterways by accumulating in rivers and canals. This Europe-wide project aims to offer solutions to improve the removal of the chemicals from waste water treatment plants, before they enter the waterways.

Watch the Sullied Sediments YouTube Video here.

Plastic bottles

Evolving a Circular Plastics Economy

Designing new catalysts and biodegradable polymers.

Redshaw (Funder EPSRC)

Humber Bridge Landscape Sunset

Sensing and Safeguarding the Water Environment

PhD Cluster

View all projects
  • Nano photocatalysts for the accelerated degradation of plastics.
    Started 2020, Francesconi – Ke
  • Redshaw, Whitelaw Frater Cancer Trust – designing new metal-based anti-cancer agents.
  • A Circular Plastics Economy (Funder British Council)
    bring together UK and Chinese researcher sin the area of the circular plastics economy.
  • Citizen enquiry: Barriers, Challenges and Enablers for public engagement (Funder BBSRC).
  • EDRF/Flood Innovation Centre
    Chemical monitoring of flood waters (project being set up)


Outputs and publications

Chem. Commun. 2019, 55, 11279
Cat. Sci. & Tech. 2020, 10, 1619
Chem. Eur. J. 2015, 21, 5199
Dalton Trans. 2015, 44, 12292

J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, 7, 8030; Materials & Design, 2018, 137, 384; Mater. Chem. Front. 2017, 1, 2627; Mater. Chem. Front., 2018, 2, 402; RSC Advances, 2017, 7, 45535, Food & Function, 2017, 8 2967 Paunov and Horozov

Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 2014, 111, 8797; J. Mat. Chem. B, 2014, 2, 945; Inorg. Chem., 2016, 55, 1108 Young

• Use of titanocalix[4]arenes in the ring opening polymerization of cyclic esters. Z. Sun, Y. Zhao, O. Santoro, M. R. J. Elsegood, E. V. Bedwell, K. Zahra, A. Walton, and C. Redshaw, Cat. Sci. & Tech. 2020, 10, 1619 – 1639. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9CY02571E
• Water-soluble rhenium phosphine complexes incorporating the Ph2C(X) motif (X = O−, NH−): Structural and Cytotoxicity studies. A. F. Alshamrani, T. J. Prior, G. Stasiuk, L. J. Higham and C. Redshaw. Inorg. Chem. 2020, 59, 2367-2378. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.inorgchem.9b03239
• Turning on ROP activity in a bimetallic Co/Zn complex supported by a [2+2] Schiff-base macrocycle, K. Wang, T. J. Prior and C. Redshaw, Chem. Commun. 2019, 55, 11279-11282. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9CC04494A

• Bongkot Ngamsom, Alma Truyts, Louis Fourie, Shavon Kumar, Mark D. Tarn, Alexander Iles, Klariska Moodley, Kevin J. Land, Nicole Pamme, A Microfluidic Device for Rapid Screening of E. coli O157:H7 Based on IFAST and ATP Bioluminescence Assay for Water Analysis, Chemistry – A European Journal, 2017, 23, 1-5. doi: 10.1002/chem.201703487
• Anupam A. K. Das, Mohammad M. N. Esfahani, Orlin D. Velev, Nicole Pamme, Vesselin N. Paunov, Artificial leaf device for hydrogen generation from immobilised C. reinhardtii microalgae, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2015, 3, 20698-20707. doi: 10.1039/C5TA07112G

Research Students

Kuiyuan Wang

Redshaw (CSC Scholarship)

Tian Xing

Redshaw (CSC Scholarship)

Xin Zhang

Redshaw (UoH Scholarship - Plastics Cluster)

Antonia Garratt

Nano photocatalysts for the accelerated degradation of plastics


Mila Sari

Mapping heavy metal pollution in river water with paper-based devices through citizen science

Pamme (Hull PhD cluster – Sensing and Safeguarding the Water Environment)

Samira AlHinai

Paper-microfluidics for environmental analysis,

Pamme (Oman Ministry of Education)

Mohammad AlHurani

Unravelling micro-plankton populations through lab-on-a-chip-based sorting and analysis platforms

Pamme (Hull PhD cluster – Sensing and Safeguarding the Water Environment)


Our research impacts the world. Come and join us.

Be part of a vibrant research community at the University of Hull.

Find out more