Catalytic reaction has been an essential process for wide industrial application, and it will support the future science and industry to establish the sustainable society. Although it has been placed more expectations on catalyst, many aspects of this field need to be clarified. The preparation procedures, the factor of each materials (surface structure, active sites, and so on), and the catalytic activity are closely connected. Therefore, having a broad understanding of this field is essential for developing a novel catalytic processes. In my research career, I have focused on this field from a materials synthesis to a catalytic reaction.
The first part of my poster will focus on the catalyst synthesis, especially on microporous materials synthesis. During my Ph.D. work (with Prof. Tatsuya Okubo in the University of Tokyo, Japan) followed by one and half years of postdoctoral research (with Prof. Raul F. Lobo in University of Delaware), we developed novel synthesis methods of zeolites. Zeolites, which is a crystalline microporous material, has been widely used in industrial catalytic fields as ion-exchanger, catalyst, adsorbent, and so on. The synthesis of zeolite with controlled framework structure and compositions, however, still relies on a lot of try-and-error trials. We developed several synthesis methods of zeolites; 1) a novel synthesis pathway of silica-sodalite via 2-D crystalline precursor without hydrothermal treatment, 2) a method to use a highly amphiphilic molecule as a structure-directing agent in a pure-silica zeolite synthesis, 3) a seeding method to reduce the use of an organic structure-directing agent in the synthesis of UZM-4 zeolite, and 4) a general methodology to synthesize high-silica zeolites in fluoride media.
The second part of my poster will focus on the catalytic C-C bond formation reaction, which is my current work (with Prof. David W. Flaherty in University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Ethanol derived from the fermentation of biomass can be catalytically converted into higher molecular weight hydrocarbons and oxygenates to produce advanced biofuels and lubricants. The Guerbet reaction is one pathway for this process. The catalyst hydroxyapatite (HAP) exposes both acid and base sites, and therefore, HAP gives better selectivities. Cascades of primary and secondary Guerbet reactions give broad distributions of heavier products; however, little is known about how the acid-base properties of catalysts affect the distribution of carbon numbers (Cn) or branching of the products. We use steady-state rate measurements to study the reaction network for ethanol Guerbet on HAP materials that produces C4-C12 alcohols via cascades of coupling steps.
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