Engineering Molecular Transformations over Supported Catalysts for Sustainable Energy Conversion

2012 Spring Symposium

Matthew Neu­rock
Depart­ments of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Chem­istry
Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia

Abstract — Future strate­gies for ener­gy pro­duc­tion will undoubt­ed­ly require process­es and mate­ri­als that can effi­cient­ly con­vert sus­tain­able resources into fuels and chem­i­cals. While nature’s enzymes ele­gant­ly inte­grate high­ly active cen­ters togeth­er with adap­tive nanoscale envi­ron­ments in order to exquis­ite­ly con­trol the cat­alyt­ic trans­for­ma­tion of mol­e­cules to spe­cif­ic prod­ucts, they are dif­fi­cult to incor­po­rate into large scale indus­tri­al process­es and lim­it­ed in terms of their sta­bil­i­ty. The design of more robust het­ero­ge­neous cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als that can mim­ic enzyme behav­ior, how­ev­er, has been hin­dered by our lim­it­ed under­stand­ing of how such trans­for­ma­tions pro­ceed over inor­gan­ic mate­ri­als. The tremen­dous advances in ab ini­tio the­o­ret­i­cal meth­ods along with high per­for­mance com­put­ing that have occurred over the past two decades pro­vide unprece­dent­ed abil­i­ty to track these mol­e­c­u­lar trans­for­ma­tions and how they pro­ceed at spe­cif­ic sites and with­in par­tic­u­lar envi­ron­ments. This infor­ma­tion togeth­er with the unique abil­i­ties to fol­low such trans­for­ma­tions spec­tro­scop­i­cal­ly is enabling the design of unique atom­ic sur­face ensem­bles and nanoscale reac­tion envi­ron­ment that can effi­cient­ly cat­alyze spe­cif­ic mol­e­c­u­lar trans­for­ma­tions. This talk presents the advances that have occurred with­in catal­y­sis that have enabled this evo­lu­tion of mol­e­c­u­lar engi­neer­ing and dis­cuss its appli­ca­tions to ener­gy con­ver­sion strate­gies as well as chem­i­cal syn­the­ses. More specif­i­cal­ly, we will dis­cuss the appli­ca­tion to selec­tive oxi­da­tion and hydro­gena­tion over sup­port­ed met­als for bio­mass con­ver­sion as well as C-C bond for­ma­tion reac­tions.

Speaker’s Biog­ra­phy — Matt Neu­rock is the Alice M. and Guy A. Wil­son Pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Pro­fes­sor of Chem­istry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia. He joined the fac­ul­ty in Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia in 1995 after receiv­ing his Ph.D. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Delaware and work­ing as a post­doc­tor­al Fel­low at the Eind­hoven Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy and at the DuPont Cor­po­rate Catal­y­sis Cen­ter. He has received var­i­ous awards for his research in com­pu­ta­tion­al catal­y­sis and mol­e­c­u­lar reac­tion engi­neer­ing includ­ing the 2007 R.H. Wil­helm Award in Chem­i­cal Reac­tion Engi­neer­ing from the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Chem­i­cal Engi­neers and the 2005 Paul H. Emmett Award in Fun­da­men­tal Catal­y­sis from the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety. He has co-authored 200 papers, two patents and two books. He is cur­rent­ly an edi­tor for the Jour­nal of Catal­y­sis and serves on the edi­to­r­i­al board for Applied Catal­y­sis A: Gen­er­al, Elec­tro­catal­y­sis, and the inter­na­tion­al advi­so­ry board, Chem­CatChem.