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.