We are developing an engineering basis for the design of new catalysts and adsorbents for the polymerization and environmental industries. Our approach is to relate the synthesis, morphology and activity of heterogeneous catalysts to the transport and adsorption within these high surface area solids. The emphasis is on the dynamics of the transport and reaction.
Influence of Solid Morphology
The porous network present in high surface area materials controls the reactions of solids. In addition to affecting the transport, adsorbates can interact with and even profoundly change the solid structure. This symbiotic relationship is found in filters, polymerization catalysts, and molecular sieves. We are developing the techniques to analyze porous materials and are investigating the complex, often dynamic, transformations that take place. A primary focus is on adsorption, diffusion, and transport in zeolites. The emphasis is on the interaction between morphological dynamics and the adsorbing/reacting species.
The petrochemical, environmental, and materials synthesis industries are dominated by reaction on the surface of solids. These dynamic phenomena reflect a complex coupled relationship between the energetics, the transport, and the chemistry at the interface. We are concentrating on olefin polymerization, environmental catalysis, and deactivating catalyst systems. Our approach is to study the interactions and reactions in situ and, thereby, to understand the surface chemistry and dynamics leading to reaction and catalysis.
Catalytic Microwave Engineering
Microwave energy often has a unique ability to influence chemical reactions, resulting in more efficient processes and new products. Specifically, recent studies document enhancement of nanoporous oxide synthesis, selective separations and catalytic reactions employing microwaves. However, the mechanism and engineering for the enhanced reactions have been unknown. We are studying these novel reactions by in situ spectroscopy and microwave reactor engineering to understand the enhancements and to control these processes.