Research Associate


Office: 432M, ACEX Building, Imperial College London,
South Kensington Campus 

Department of Chemical Engineering 

Personal Website




2015 - present

Research Associate

Chemical Engineering Department, Imperial College of Science and Technology, UK

Supervisors: Prof. Klaus Hellgardt and Prof. David Chadwick

Development and optimization of heterogeneously catalysed processes for sustainable production of high value platform and commodity chemicals from carbohydrate-biomass.

Key catalytic biomass transformations includes reduction, oxidation and/or acid catalysed reactions in the liquid phase.

2012 - 2014

Independent researcher (postdoctoral level)

Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), Spain. Supervisor: Dr. Atsushi Urakawa

Development of heterogeneously catalysed processes for production of high value chemicals from CO2 through continuous high-pressure operation mode.

The research was focused in Heterogeneous Catalysis, Material Science and Chemical Engineering research areas.

2005 - 2012

Post-doctoral fellow

CICECO, University of Aveiro, Portugal

Supervisors: Dr. Anabela T. Aguiar Valente and Dr. Martyn Pillinger

Catalytic conversion of saccharides into furan derivatives

The research was focused in Catalysis, Material Science (catalyst synthesis). More specifically in homogeneous and heterogeneous acid and base catalysis. In particular in the conversion of saccharides into the platform chemicals: furfural (FUR) and 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde (HMF), in the liquid-phase, via batch operation mode. Development of analytical methodologies for catalyst screening. Experiments planning and interpretation of experimental results. Identification, synthesis and characterization of heterogeneous bulk and supported catalysts with improved texture, acid-base properties and catalytic properties (e.g. micro/mesoporous aluminosilicates, composite materials, delaminated layered zeolites, mixed oxides)


Sérgio Lima has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and a Degree in Chemistry (Analytical Chemistry) by University of Aveiro, Portugal. His previous research experience was related with the development of heterogeneous (and homogenous) catalytic processes for valorisation of alternative renewable feedstocks (eg. carbohydrate biomass and CO2) for chemical/fuel production and recycling using thermochemical catalysed processes, in the liquid phase under batch or continuous (high-pressure) reaction mode. He has accumulated experience in chemical valorisation of carbohydrate biomass and CO2; identification, preparation and characterisation of fully inorganic porous catalysts with improved texture, acidity and stability such us microporous and mesoporous and nano-sized materials and in the development of ionic liquid-based catalytic routes. In his PhD, Sérgio Lima has been involved in the investigation of the effects caused by strong electrolytes on the inclusion and self-aggregation processes of amphiphilic molecules in aqueous solutions containing cyclodextrins. These studies were performed in collaboration with Doctor José Teixeira from Laboratoire Léon Brillouin (CEA/Saclay, France) using Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) and 1H NMR.  

His scientific interests includes: valorisation of alternative feedstocks (bio-renewable substracts, eg. carbohydrate biomass and CO2) for chemical/fuel production and recycling using thermochemical catalysed processes; development of catalytic technologies; design, constrution and commissioning flow reactors (from bench-top microreactor to pilot-plant); rational design, synthesis and characterization of heterogeneous catalysts; spectroscopy; analytical chemistry; colloidal chemistry; chemical engineering and supramolecular chemistry.

As result of his research activities as PhD student and postdoctoral researcher resulted in: 1 PhD thesis, 2 book chapter, 1 review, 33 papers in international journals of the scientific citation index (SCI) and 5 papers in proceedings books. He is co-author of more than 30 posters communications and 3 oral communication presented at (inter)national congresses/conferences. Furthermore, he was responsible for preparations of draft manuscripts, grant applications, resumes, research plans and projects. Finally, he was also responsible for the preparation of confidential reports for industrial partners.

Publications (Selected)

1. Thesis: Sérgio Lima, Inclusion of amphiphilic molecules in beta-cyclodextrin in aqueous solutions of strong electrolyte, Department of Chemistry, University of Aveiro, 2005. Supervisor: Professor José J.C. Teixeira Dias (Senior Professor, CICECO, Department of Chemistry, University of Aveiro, Portugal).

2. Book Chapter: Luis F. Bobadilla, Sérgio Lima, and Atsushi Urakawa, “Cycloaddition of CO2 and Epoxides over Reusable Solid Catalysts”, in Advanced Catalytic Materials (eds. A. Tiwari and S. Titinchi), Scrivener Publishing LLC, 2015, 271–312.

3. Book Chapter: Ana S. Dias, Sérgio Lima, Martyn M. Pillinger, Anabela A. Valente, “Furfural and Furfural-based Industrial-Chemicals”, in Ideas in Chemistry and Molecular Sciences: Advances in Synthetic Chemistry (ed. B. Pignataro), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2010, Chap. 8, 167-186

4. Review in SCI Journal: Ionic liquids as tools for the acid-catalysed hydrolysis/dehydration of saccharides to furanic aldehydes Sérgio Lima, Margarida M. Antunes, Martyn Pillinger, Anabela A. Valente, ChemCatChem, 2011, 3(11), 1686-1706. DOI: 10.1002/cctc.201100105

5. One-pot conversion of furfural to useful bio-products in the presence of a Sn,Al-containing zeolite beta catalyst prepared via post-synthesis routes, Margarida M. Antunes, Sérgio Lima, Patrícia Neves, Ana L. Magalhães, Enza Fazio, Auguste Fernandes, Fortunato Neri, Carlos M. Silva, Silvia M. Rocha, Maria F. Ribeiro, Martyn Pillinger, Atsushi Urakawa, Anabela A. Valente, Journal of Catalysis, 2015, 329, 522-537. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcat.2015.05.022

6. Pr oduction of biomass-derived furanic ethers and levulinate esters using heterogeneous acid catalysts, Patrícia Neves, Margarida Antunes, Patrícia A. Russo, Joana Pinho Abrantes, Sérgio Lima, Auguste Fernandes, Martyn Pillinger, Sílvia M. Rocha, Maria Filipa Ribeiro, Anabela A. Valente, Green Chem.,2013, 15(12), 3367-3376. DOI: 10.1039/c3gc41908h

7. Aqueous phase reactions of pentoses in the presence of nanocrystalline zeolite beta: identification of by-product s and kinetic modeling, Luís R. Ferreira, Sérgio Lima, Patrícia Neves, Margarida M. Antunes, Sílvia M. Rocha, Martyn Pillinger, Inês Portugal, Anabela A. Valente, Chemical Engineering Journal, 2013, 215-216, 772-783. DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2012.11.022

8. Catalytic dehydration of D-xylose to 2-furfuraldehyde in the presence of Zr-(W,Al) mixed oxides. Tracing by-products using two-dimensional gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry, Margarida M. Antunes, Sérgio Lima, Joana Candeias, Auguste Fernandes, Martyn Pillinger, Sílvia M. Rocha, Maria Filipa Ribeiro, Anabela A. Valente, Catalysis Today, 2012, 195, 127– 135. DOI: 10.1016/j.cattod.2012.03.066

9. Catalytic Cyclodehydration of Xylose to Furfural in the Presence of Zeolite H-Beta and a Micro/Mesoporous Beta/TUD-1 Composite Material, Sérgio Lima, Margarida M. Antunes, Auguste Fernandes, Martyn Pillinger, Maria Filipa Ribeiro, Anabela A. Valente, Applied Catalysis A: General, 2010, 388, 141-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.apcata.2010.08.040

10. Acid-Catalysed Conversion of Saccharides into Furanic Aldehydes in the Presence of Three-Dimensional Mesoporous Al-TUD-1, Sérgio Lima, Margarida M. Antunes, Auguste Fernandes, Martyn Pillinger, Maria Filipa Ribeiro, Anabela A. Valente, Molecules, 2010, 15(6), 3863-3877. DOI: 10.3390/molecules15063863

11. Modified versions of sulfated zirconia as catalysts for the conversion of xylose to furfural, Ana S. Dias, Sérgio Lima, Martyn Pillinger, Anabela A. Valente, Catalysis Letters, 2007, 114 (3-4), 151-160. DOI: 10.1007/s10562-007-9052-6

12. Exfoliated titanate, niobate and titanoniobate nanosheets as solid acid catalysts for the liquid phase dehydration of d-xylose into furfural, Ana S. Dias, Sérgio Lima, Daniel Carriazo, Vicente Rives, Martyn Pillinger, Anabela A. Valente, J. Catalysis, 2006, 244, 230-237. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcat.2006.09.010

13. Why do methylated and unsubstituted cyclodextrins interact so differently with sodium decanoate micelles in water?Cristiano Andrade-Dias, Sérgio Lima, José J. C. Teixeira-Dias, José Teixeira, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2008, 112 (48), 15327-15332. DOI: 10.1021/jp807167h 

14.  How inorganic anions affect the inclusion of hexanoic and decanoic acid in b-cyclodextrin, Sérgio Lima, Brian J. Goodfellow, José J. C. Teixeira-Dias, J. Phys. Chem. A, 2004, 108(46), 10044-10049. DOI: 10.1021/jp046882w

15. Interactions of cationic and neutral molybdenum complexes with b-cyclodextrin, Sérgio Lima, Isabel S. Gonçalves, Paulo Ribeiro-Claro, Martyn Pillinger, André D. Lopes, Paula Ferreira, José J. C. Teixeira-Dias, João Rocha, Carlos C. Romão, Organometallics, 2001, 20, 2191-2197. DOI: 10.1021/om001088s