257380 Heterogeneous Catalysis and Sustainable Energy Production: From Fundamentals to Applications

Sunday, October 28, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Bingjun Xu, Chemical Engineering, Caltech, Pasadena, CA

The interplay of fundamental mechanistic investigation, application-oriented engineering, and novel materials synthesis plays a critical role in energy-related research. My previous work on heterogeneous catalysis and thermal water splitting uniquely positions me to exploit the synergy of these fields to tackle the challenges of sustainable fuel production and developing green chemical processes in my future research. In the poster session, I will present some of my previous and current research related to these topics.

My Ph.D. thesis established the mechanistic framework for oxidative coupling reactions on the single crystal Au(111) surface under ultrahigh vacuum conditions. Gold-based catalysts have shown remarkable activity towards a number of important reductions, though the mechanistic steps remain controversial. Elucidating the intrinsic activity of metallic gold is a critical step in fully understanding gold catalysis. Reaction pathways and rate-limiting steps for oxidative coupling reactions on metallic gold surface have been elucidated by a combination of surface-sensitive spectroscopies and density functional theory calculations. Oxidative coupling reactions carried out on nanoporous gold catalysts under ambient conditions faithfully followed the proposed mechanism, demonstrating the applicability of the mechanism.

My postdoctoral research focuses on developing a low-temperature, thermal water splitting cycle aiming to take advantage of waste heat from nuclear power plants. A manganese-based thermochemical cycle has been proposed, with the highest operating temperature (850°C) close to that of the now piloted sulfur-iodine cycle. Furthermore, the Mn-based cycle is founded on earth-abundant elements without involving any toxic or corrosive chemicals. In addition, I am working to synthesize zeolites with chiral structures via rational design of structure-directing agents.

Integrating my background in heterogeneous catalysis, clean energy, and materials synthesis, my future research aims to address such important challenges as the production of fuel from carbon neutral/negative sources and the development of green chemical processes.

Ph.D. Advisors: Prof. Cynthia M. Friend and Prof. Robert J. Madix

Postdoc Advisor: Prof. Mark E. Davis

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