2014 Spring Symposium
Jesse R. McManus, Eddie Martono, & John M. Vohs
University of Pennsylvania
Abstract — The high oxygen content and multiple functional groups in biomass-derived platform molecules like glucose pose an interesting reaction engineering challenge for the conversion of biomass to value-added fuels and chemicals. The key to understanding the reaction pathways necessary for these conversions lies in elucidating reaction active sites on catalytically relevant surfaces and identifying the role of each functionality exhibited by the feed molecule in the reaction mechanism. In this study, temperature programmed desorption (TPD) and high resolution electron energy loss (HREEL) spectroscopy are utilized to probe the reaction pathway of the biomass-relevant glucose molecule, as well as model aldoses glyceraldehyde and glycolaldehyde, and simple aldehyde acetaldehyde on a Pt catalyst surface. The effects of modification of the Pt(111) surface with oxyphilic Zn adatoms are explored with regard to hydrodeoxygenation chemistry, and reaction mechanisms are proposed. With all molecules studied, it was found that Zn addition to Pt(111) resulted in an increase in the barrier for C-H and C-C scission, as well as notable activity for deoxygenation at the aldehyde oxygen as a function of polyalcohol content. These results help elucidate the role of multiple alcohol functionalities in biomass-derived oxygenates and highlight the potential of using alloy effects to modify catalytic chemistry.
Biography — Dr. Jesse R. McManus recently completed his PhD research in Chemical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania under the tutelage of Prof. John M. Vohs, successfully defending his thesis “Reaction Characterization of Biomass-Derived Oxygenates on Noble Metal Catalysts”. In 2009, he received his BSE in Chemical Engineering at Tulane University, graduating Summa Cum Laude with an Honors distinction. During his studies, Dr. McManus has received several awards for his academic accomplishments, including the Tulane-Richards Scholarship for Academic Excellence, The R.C. Reed Scholar Award for academic achievement and promise for the future, and the Doctoral Franklin Scholar Award for students with high promise to succeed in creative research at the cutting edge of their discipline. In the spring, Dr. McManus plans to depart from academic research and pursue a career in the energy sector with a major energy company.