The Design of New Catalysts for Biomass Conversion with Atomic Layer Deposition

Meeting Program — April 2015

George Huber
Depart­ment of Chem­i­cal and Bio­log­i­cal Engi­neer­ing
Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin, Madi­son, WI

The objec­tive of the Huber research group is to devel­op new cat­alyt­ic process­es and cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als for the pro­duc­tion of renew­able fuels and chem­i­cals from bio­mass, solar ener­gy, and nat­ur­al gas resources. We use a wide range of mod­ern chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing tools to design and opti­mize these clean tech­nolo­gies includ­ing: het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis, kinet­ic mod­el­ing, reac­tion engi­neer­ing, spec­troscopy, ana­lyt­i­cal chem­istry, nan­otech­nol­o­gy, cat­a­lyst syn­the­sis, con­cep­tu­al process design, and the­o­ret­i­cal chem­istry. In this pre­sen­ta­tion we will first dis­cuss the hydrodeoxy­gena­tion of bio­mass into dif­fer­ent fuels and chem­i­cals. In addi­tion we can use HDO to eas­i­ly pro­duce new class­es mol­e­cules that are not cur­rent­ly pro­duced from petro­le­um feed­stocks. Hydrodeoxy­gena­tion (HDO) is a plat­form tech­nol­o­gy used to con­vert liq­uid bio­mass feed­stocks (includ­ing aque­ous car­bo­hy­drates, pyrol­y­sis oils, and aque­ous enzy­mat­ic prod­ucts) into alka­nes, alco­hols and poly­ols. In this process the bio­mass feed reacts with hydro­gen to pro­duce water and a deoxy­genat­ed prod­uct using a bifunc­tion­al cat­a­lyst that con­tains both met­al and acid sites. The chal­lenge with HDO is to selec­tive­ly pro­duce tar­get­ed prod­ucts that can be used as fuel blend­stocks or chem­i­cals and to decrease the hydro­gen con­sump­tion. We will dis­cuss how dif­fer­ent bio­mass based feed­stocks can be con­vert­ed into fuels or chem­i­cals by HDO. We will out­line the fun­da­men­tal cat­alyt­ic chem­istry and the sci­en­tif­ic chal­lenges. We will then dis­cuss how ALD can be used to design improved cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als.

Atom­ic lay­er depo­si­tion (ALD) has emerged as a tool for the atom­i­cal­ly pre­cise design and syn­the­sis of cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als. We dis­cuss exam­ples where the atom­ic pre­ci­sion has been used to elu­ci­date reac­tion mech­a­nisms and cat­a­lyst struc­ture-prop­er­ty rela­tion­ships by cre­at­ing mate­ri­als with a con­trolled dis­tri­b­u­tion of size, com­po­si­tion, and active site. We high­light ways ALD has been uti­lized to design cat­a­lysts with improved activ­i­ty, selec­tiv­i­ty, and sta­bil­i­ty under a vari­ety of con­di­tions (e.g., high tem­per­a­ture, gas- and liq­uid-phase, and cor­ro­sive envi­ron­ments). In addi­tion, due to the flex­i­bil­i­ty and con­trol of struc­ture and com­po­si­tion, ALD can cre­ate myr­i­ad cat­alyt­ic struc­tures (e.g., high sur­face area oxides, met­al nanopar­ti­cles, bimetal­lic nanopar­ti­cles, bifunc­tion­al cat­a­lysts, con­trolled micro-envi­ron­ments, etc.) that con­se­quent­ly pos­sess applic­a­bil­i­ty for a wide-rang­ing num­ber of chem­i­cal reac­tions (e.g., CO2 con­ver­sion, elec­tro­catal­y­sis, pho­to­cat­alyt­ic and ther­mal water split­ting, methane con­ver­sion, ethane and propane dehy­dro­gena­tion, and bio­mass con­ver­sion). Final­ly, the out­look for ALD-derived cat­alyt­ic mate­ri­als is dis­cussed with empha­sis on the pend­ing chal­lenges as well as areas of sig­nif­i­cant poten­tial for build­ing sci­en­tif­ic insight and achiev­ing prac­ti­cal impacts.

George Huber
George W. Huber is a Pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son. His research focus is on devel­op­ing new cat­alyt­ic process­es for the pro­duc­tion of renew­able liq­uid fuels and chem­i­cals.

George is one of the most high­ly cit­ed young schol­ars in the chem­i­cal sci­ences being cit­ed over 3,200 times in 2014 and over 14,000 times in his career. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed pub­li­ca­tions includ­ing three pub­li­ca­tions in Sci­ence. Patents and tech­nolo­gies he has helped devel­op have been licensed by three dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies. He has received sev­er­al awards includ­ing the NSF CAREER award, the Drey­fus Teacher-Schol­ar award, fel­low of the Roy­al Soci­ety of Chem­istry, and the out­stand­ing young fac­ul­ty award (2010) by the col­lege of engi­neer­ing at UMass-Amherst. He has been named one of the top 100 peo­ple in bioen­er­gy by Bio­fu­els Digest for the past 3 years. He is co-founder of Anel­lotech a bio­chem­i­cal com­pa­ny focused on com­mer­cial­iz­ing, cat­alyt­ic fast pyrol­y­sis, a tech­nol­o­gy to pro­duce renew­able aro­mat­ics from bio­mass. George serves on the edi­to­r­i­al board of Ener­gy and Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence, Chem­CatChem, and The Cat­a­lyst Review. In June 2007, he chaired a NSF and DOE fund­ed work­shop enti­tled: Break­ing the Chem­i­cal and Engi­neer­ing Bar­ri­ers to Lig­no­cel­lu­losic Bio­fu­els (www​.ecs​.umass​.edu/​b​i​o​f​u​els).

George did a post-doc­tor­al stay with Aveli­no Cor­ma at the Tech­ni­cal Chem­i­cal Insti­tute at the Poly­tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty of Valen­cia, Spain (UPV-CSIC) where he stud­ied bio-fuels pro­duc­tion using petro­le­um refin­ing tech­nolo­gies. He obtained his Ph.D. in Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing from Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son (2005). He obtained his B.S. (1999) and M.S.(2000) degrees in Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing from Brigham Young Uni­ver­si­ty.