Catalysis – An Indispensable Tool

Meeting Program — September 2015

Sourav Sengupta
Sourav Sen­gup­ta
Mol­e­c­u­lar Sci­ences, CR&D
E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co
Wilm­ing­ton, DE

Abstract — In the past three decades, there has been a con­cert­ed effort in the chem­i­cal, agro­chem­i­cal, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, nutraceu­ti­cal, and petro­le­um indus­tries to design cost-advan­taged, inher­ent­ly safer, sus­tain­able, and envi­ron­men­tal­ly-friend­ly process­es. Catal­y­sis plays a cru­cial role in improv­ing process effi­cien­cies and process inten­si­fi­ca­tion lead­ing to increased atom uti­liza­tion, reduced by-prod­uct for­ma­tion, cheap­er process, and low­er cap­i­tal invest­ment. Also, there is an increas­ing inter­est in using renew­ably-sourced feed­stocks for the pro­duc­tion of fuels, chem­i­cals, and advanced mate­ri­als due to fluc­tu­a­tions in petro­le­um prices, lim­it­ed avail­abil­i­ty of petro­le­um resources, and increas­ing con­sumer con­scious­ness about sus­tain­able process­es.
Although catal­y­sis is a major tour-de-force in dri­ving this effi­ca­cious and green chem­istry rev­o­lu­tion, the role of reac­tion engi­neer­ing, reac­tor design, process devel­op­ment, and opti­mum oper­at­ing con­di­tions can­not be under­es­ti­mat­ed. Some of the fun­da­men­tal con­cepts of catal­y­sis will be dis­cussed and linked to chem­i­cal process­es of indus­tri­al rel­e­vance. Specif­i­cal­ly, the role of sci­ence and engi­neer­ing in indus­tri­al catal­y­sis will be illus­trat­ed with par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on cat­a­lyst eval­u­a­tion, process opti­miza­tion, cat­a­lyst deac­ti­va­tion, and reac­tor design asso­ci­at­ed with indus­tri­al process­es. Case stud­ies will include hydro­gena­tion reac­tions using sup­port­ed base met­al and pre­cious met­al cat­a­lysts and sol­id acid cat­alyzed reac­tions, includ­ing the hydro­gena­tion of hexa­flu­o­roace­tone and cat­mint oil, and dehy­dra­tion of xylose.
Biog­ra­phy — Dr. Sourav K. Sen­gup­ta is a Research Fel­low in the Mol­e­c­u­lar Sci­ences Divi­sion (Cen­tral Research & Devel­op­ment Depart­ment) of E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. He received his PhD degree in Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Delaware in 1991. Imme­di­ate­ly after com­plet­ing his PhD, Dr. Sen­gup­ta joined the DuPont Com­pa­ny and was placed on loan to Cono­co where he devel­oped nov­el path­ways for the oxida­tive desul­fu­r­iza­tion of gaso­line and qual­i­fied new hydrodesul­fu­r­iza­tion and FCC cat­a­lysts. Short­ly after­wards, he was trans­ferred to the Cor­po­rate Catal­y­sis Cen­ter (CR&D). At CR&D, he worked on sol­id acid, sol­id base, and hydro­gena­tion catal­y­sis pro­grams and made impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to a num­ber of Strate­gic Busi­ness Unit (SBUs).
Dr. Sen­gup­ta spent sev­er­al years at DuPont’s Nylon busi­ness unit, where he worked on a num­ber of com­mer­cial process­es and research pro­grams, includ­ing low-pres­sure and high-pres­sure ADN hydro­gena­tion, hydro­gen cyanide syn­the­sis by Andrus­sow and induc­tion-heat­ing process­es, and nitrous oxide destruc­tion cat­a­lyst tech­nol­o­gy.
When DuPont sold their Nylon, poly­ester, and Lycra busi­ness­es to Koch Indus­tries, Dr. Sen­gup­ta joined Invista, a whol­ly-owned sub­sidiary of Koch Indus­tries, where his work involved inves­ti­gat­ing the tech­ni­cal and eco­nom­ic fea­si­bil­i­ty of capro­lac­tam com­mer­cial­iza­tion.
After a short stint at Invista, Dr. Sen­gup­ta came back to DuPont, and joined their Chem­i­cal Solu­tions Enter­prise (DCSE) as a man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­ni­cal chemist at Cham­bers Works in New Jer­sey. His respon­si­bil­i­ty cov­ered 42 dif­fer­ent spe­cial­ty chem­i­cals. There he worked with a team of experts to design, devel­op, and com­mer­cial­ize a nov­el hydro­gena­tion process for the pro­duc­tion of hexa­flu­o­roiso­propanol (HFIP) and hexa­flu­o­roace­tone (HFA) recov­ery process. He was also involved in the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of a num­ber of Cap­stone prod­ucts. In 2009, he start­ed up a Process Devel­op­ment Cen­ter for DCSE at the Exper­i­men­tal Sta­tion. In 2011, he moved back to CR&D and has been work­ing on a num­ber of R&D pro­grams on using renew­able feed­stock to man­u­fac­ture chem­i­cals and mate­ri­als and new cat­a­lyst devel­op­ment.
Dr. Sengupta’s exper­tise is in the area of catal­y­sis, reac­tion engi­neer­ing and reac­tor analy­sis, and process devel­op­ment. He has over 65 US patents, pub­li­ca­tions, and pre­sen­ta­tions to his cred­it.