Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy

Derek Fray FREng FRS

Derek Fray portrait

Professor and Director of Research

BSc Imperial College
PhD Imperial College

+44 (0)1223 334306

Sustainability, Sensors and Nanostructures

Our motivation is to apply materials chemistry to problems that are scientifically interesting and technologically challenging.

Reduction of metal oxides

A novel electrochemical method is being investigated for the reduction of metal oxides where the metal oxide or mixture of metal oxides is the cathode in a bath of molten calcium chloride. The oxygen ionizes, dissolves in the electrolyte, and is discharged at the anode. This process has also being considered by NASA for the production of oxygen on the moon from the moon regolith. Two companies have been set up to exploit this technology.

Development of sensors

It is important to be able to instantaneously measure species in gases, liquids and solids. Sensors, based upon solid electrolytes have been developed to measure hydrogen in molten aluminium, hydrogen in steel and SOx from power stations. Ion Science Ltd and Environmental Monitoring and Control Ltd have been set up to market these devices.


Carbon and sulfide nanotubes are being synthesized by novel routes. These interesting materials are being investigated as electrodes in supercapacitors and batteries.


The world has finite resources and it is important to be able to recycle waste products. Processes for treating galvanized scrap, batteries and electronic scrap have been devised and are now being developed industrially.


Surface of the moon
Surface of the moon
  • XY Yan & DJ Fray, "Electrosynthesis of NbTi and Nb3Sn superconductors from oxide precursors in CaCl2-based melts" Adv. Funct. Mater. 15, 1757–1761 (2005).
  • C Schwandt & DJ Fray, "The titanium/hydrogen system as the solid-state reference in high-temperature proton conductor-based hydrogen sensors" J. Appl. Electrochem. 36, 557–565 (2006).
  • JKS Tee & DJ Fray, "Separation of copper from steel" Ironmaking & Steelmaking 33, 19–23 (2006).
  • Y Li, VP Kotzeva & DJ Fray, "Electrochemical performance of CdS nanomaterials synthesized by microemulsion techniques" Mater. Lett. 60, 2743–2746 (2006).