397143 The Flame Synthesis of Carbonaceous and Heterogeneous Nanomaterials, and Using Soot for the Fischer- Tropsch Synthesis High Value Chemicals

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Galleria Exhibit Hall (Hilton Atlanta)
Enoch Dames, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

We have a limited understanding of highly desired industrial chemical processes that naturally occur in flames – one reason that soot production remains a global issue. Still, empirical knowledge has driven the development of flame synthesis techniques for widely used products like carbon black, TiO2, and even specialized carbon nanomaterials. Although the flame synthesis of metal oxide nanoparticles has seen success because this process follows a decent on a Gibbs free energy landscape, carbon particle formation is dominated by chemical kinetics and remains largely unknown to this day. Thus, further understanding it will allow for greater control over carbon nanoparticle formation under flame conditions, which can scale better than other synthesis techniques like the sol-gel method. One of my research plans is the theory-aided design of flame synthesis environments to harvest self-assembled nanoparticles and quantum dots.  Within flames, the self-assembly process of carbon particles is a direct result of fuel-rich combustion, the characteristics of which can be tuned by optimizing reagent mixtures and reactor conditions for a desired property. These characteristics include, but are not limited to: size, band gap, surface functional groups, and heterogeneity. Furthermore, reagent fuels may be doped with varying concentrations of metals and/or transition metals to create a new generation of catalysts, sensors, and components of targeted therapeutics, smart materials, and even quantum computers.

Another project of interest relies on the AFM, TEM and FTIR evidence that hydrocarbon chains polymerize on nascent soot surfaces. My earlier computational work strongly suggests that persistent free radicals and combustion byproducts play a role in this process. I plan to exploit this process to produce hydrocarbon compounds that may be used as chemical feedstock or even liquid fuels. A longer term goal is to realize a solar-thermal based energy conversion technology that operates much like reactors employing the Fischer-Tropsch process. 

B.A. Chemistry, Virginia Tech

B.S. Engineering Science and Mechanics, Virginia Tech

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, University of Souther California (Hai Wang)

Princeton Roving Postdoctoral Fellowship:

            High Temperature Gasdynamics Lab, Stanford (Ronald Hanson)

            Chemical Engineering Department, MIT (William Green)

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