Author Archives: Tyler Josephson

Elections for the 2015-2016 CCP Season

Elections for the 2015-2016 Season Executive Committee will be held on April 16th 2015

Candidates for the CCP Executive Committee

  • Chair-Elect: Anton Petushkov, Daniel Slanac (3 year appointment)
  • Treasurer: Roger Grey, Steve Harris
  • Directors: Prannit Metkar, Eric Sacia , Bingjun Xu
  • NACS Representative: Chuck Coe, Dion Vlachos (4 year appointment)

Biographical sketches of the candidates

Chair-Elect (3 year appointment)

  • Anton Petushkov received his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the University of Iowa where he researched nanosized zeolite synthesis from 2006 to 2011. In 2010 Anton participated in internship in Chevron, where he worked with Stacey Zones on multiple projects. Anton joined Zeolyst International in 2011 and has been working there on the development of new zeolite products for a variety of custom and automotive applications. Anton has been a member of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia since 2011 and has been the club’s secretary since 2012.
  • Dan Slanac has been a Research Investigator in DuPont Central Research and Development in Wilmington, DE since 2012. His current work is focused on developing next generation cellulosic ethanol processes. He received a B.S. in biomolecular engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in 2007. Immediately after, he went to the University of Texas at Austin, where he obtained a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 2012, working with Prof. Keith Johnston and Prof. Keith Stevenson on the synthesis of PGM and non-PGM catalysts (perovskites and other oxides) for oxygen reduction in PEM fuel cells and metal-air batteries. Dan joined the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia in 2013 and is the Program Chair this year. ToC


  • Roger Grey After almost 40 years working in the chemical industry utilizing my PhD in Chemistry, I recently retired from Lyondell Chemical Company. Much of my career was involved in catalysis chemical research and process development in homogeneous and heterogeneous oxidation and hydrogenation catalysis including metals, supported metals and zeolites. I have been a member of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia for over 20 years holding several officer positions, including program chair, director, chair and treasurer as well as co-chair for the poster session for the North American Catalysis Society Meeting (NAM) the last time it was held in Philadelphia. Even though I am retired, I intend to stay active in the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia activities.
  • Stephen Harris Organic Chemist/Scientist. 32 years in petrochemical/refining process definition and optimization, product development and technical service for ARCO Chemical and its successors. Three years in biochemical transformation process development. Past treasurer. ToC

NACS Representative (4 year appointment)

  • Dr. Charles Coe, Research Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering, comes to Villanova with more than 30 years of experience in the development of catalysts and adsorbents. At Villanova he is sharing his knowledge with the next generation of engineers and scientists. He is actively involved in developing and teaching alternative energy courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. His research at Villanova, in collaboration with Drs. Satrio and Smith, is focused on the thermal chemical conversion of biomass using catalytic pathways to enhance carbon yield and product selectivity. He also is involved in Corporate sponsored research on the separation and purification of gases over molecular sieves. During his industrial career at Air Products he developed an extensive expertise in molecular sieve science and catalysis. For many years he teamed with project leaders across business units to enable the development of improved adsorbents and catalysts based on creating structure-property relationships targeted at specific applications. He has been active in the PCC for 35 years and served in most administrative positions of the PCC over this period of time.
  • Dion Vlachos is the Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware and the Director of the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI), an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by the Department of Energy (DOE). Dr. Vlachos obtained a five years diploma in Chemical Engineering from the National Technical Univ. of Athens, in Greece, in 1987. He obtained his MS and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1990 and 1992, respectively, and spent a postdoctoral year at the Army High Performance Computing Research Center, MN, after which he joined UMass as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to an associate professor at UMass in 1998. He joined the Univ. of Delaware in 2000. He was a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University in the spring of 2000, a visiting faculty at Thomas Jefferson Univ. and Hospital in spring of 2007 and the George Pierce Distinguished Prof. of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the Univ. of Minnesota in the fall of 2007. Dr. Vlachos is the recipient of the R. H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering from AIChE, an AAAS Fellow, an ONR Young Investigator Award and a NSF Career Award. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, the Combustion Institute, the Catalysis Society, and SIAM. His main research thrust is multiscale modeling and simulation along with their application to catalysis, crystal growth, portable microchemical devices for power generation, production of renewable fuels and chemicals, catalyst informatics, detailed and reduced kinetic model development, and process intensification. He is the corresponding author of more than 300 refereed publications and has given nearly 200 plenary lectures, keynote lectures, and other invited talks. He has served as an executive editor of the Chemical Engineering Science journal and has served or serves on the editorial advisory board of several journals (e.g., ACS Catal., Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research (I&ECR), Applied Catalysis A: General, The Combustion Institute, The Open Energy and Fuels Journal, the Journal of Nano Energy and Power Research, and J. Chem. Eng. & Proc. Tech.) ToC


  • Dr. Pranit Metkar is a Research Investigator in DuPont’s Central Research and Development at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, DE. He has been working with DuPont since June 2012. His main areas of expertise include experimental and computational catalysis and chemical reaction engineering. His current research at DuPont is focused on producing non-fuel chemicals from biomass. Before that, he received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Houston, TX under the guidance of Prof. Michael Harold and Prof. Vemuri Balakotaiah. His Ph.D. research involved experimental and modeling of Fe/Cu-zeolite-washcoated monolithic catalysts used for NOx reduction in diesel engine vehicles. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India. He has been an active member of Catalysis Club of Philadelphia since 2012. Pranit served as the Membership Director for the CCP during 2014-2015.
  • Dr. Eric R. Sacia is currently a Research Investigator at DuPont’s Central Research & Development in Wilmington, DE. In this position, his work focuses on selective oxidation catalysis and process development in the field of renewably-sourced chemicals and materials. Prior to working with DuPont, he received his PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley with Prof. Alexis T. Bell, during which time he was recognized with a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and as a Kokes award winner for the North American Catalysis Society during the 23rd NAM. His thesis concentrated on the elucidation of new catalytic pathways from biomass-derived furanics and related derivatives to automobile lubricants as well as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. During the course of this work, Eric studied novel chemical pathways using heterogeneous acid, base, and selective hydrogenation catalysis through the framework of reaction kinetics and catalyst fundamentals. In addition to his published articles, patent applications, and presentations in the field of catalysis, he also has prior industrial experience with Marathon Petroleum. Eric has an extensive background in leadership roles, serving most recently as DuPont’s Safety Day Co-Chair along with roles in the Graduate Student Advisory Committee, Lab Committee, and Safety Committee at UC, Berkeley. He hopes to have the opportunity to serve the Philadelphia area catalysis community as a director of CCP.
  • Bingjun Xu is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at University of Delaware. Bingjun received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Harvard University in 2011. After finishing his postdoctoral research at Caltech, he joined University of Delaware in the fall of 2013. Bingjun’s research interest spans heterogeneous catalysis, electrocatalysis and in-situ spectroscopy. Bingjun joined CCP in 2011, and has been an active member since. He organized the CCP annual poster competition in 2014, which was well-attended and had the highest number poster presentations.

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 (

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.

DFT Investigation of Hydrogenation and Dehydrogenation Reactions on Binary Metal Alloys: Effect of Surface Ensembles and Composition

Meeting Program – March 2015

Fuat E Celik
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Fuat Celik
In supported metal catalysts, the tradeoff between activity and selectivity presents an important challenge for catalyst design. By allowing two dissimilar metals, we can attempt to tune the selectivity of the catalyst by enhancing bond-formation and desorption rates through the addition of a less-reactive element, while maintain high bond dissociation activity from the more active metal. The resulting catalyst properties depend strongly on the catalyst composition and ratio of the two metals (electronic effect), but may also depend on the local structure of surface ensembles of the alloy components (geometric effect). In this talk we will explore two examples of binary alloys where surface composition and geometry play an important role in determining the selectivity of the catalyst through density functional theory (DFT).

In the first example, we have examined the effect of platinum tin alloy structure and composition on the kinetics and thermodynamics of dehydrogenation and coke formation pathways during light alkane dehydrogenation. Light alkane dehydrogenation to olefins can add significant value to hydrocarbon processes that generate ethane and propane by converting low value commodity fuels to high-value chemical and polymer precursors. Supported Pt catalysts are known to be active but show significant coke formation and deactivation, which can be alleviated by alloying with Sn and other main group elements. We aim to understand how the structure and composition of these alloys affect their ability to suppress coke formation. We investigate the potential energy surfaces from ethane along the desired pathway to ethene, and along the undesired pathways towards surface carbon/coke. The effect of Pt/Sn ratio and surface geometry is investigated. As compared to pure Pt, bond scission is more difficult on the alloys and desorption is more facile, and both effects are enhanced as three-fold hollow sites consisting of only Pt atoms are eliminated.

In the second example, we evaluate Au/Ni near-surface alloys as potential oxygen reduction catalysts for the direct synthesis of hydrogen peroxide from O2 and H2, thereby avoiding the current anthraquinone process. While Au may have higher O-H bond formation activity, it is a poor O2-dissociation catalyst, and likewise Ni is very effective at O2-dissociation but not oxygen hydrogenation. Alloying Au with Ni(111) lowers H2 dissociation barrier while keeping the O2 dissociation barrier large relative to O2 hydrogenation. Desorption of H2O2 is similarly competitive with H2O2 dissociation on alloy surfaces. However, the selectivity for the OOH radical remains a challenge, with barrierless O-O bond dissociation and large (1.3 eV) hydrogenation barriers. We further investigate how the Au/Ni surface may rearrange itself to regenerate three-fold hollows of Ni atoms in the presence of strongly adsorbing surface species.

Methane Conversion to Methanol on Copper Containing Small Pore Zeolites

Meeting Program – February 2015

Bahar Ipek
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Delaware

Bahar Ipek
Methanotrophic bacteria containing particular methane monooxygenase (pMMO), a Cu-containing enzyme, or soluble methane monooxygenase (sMMO), an iron-metalloenzyme can oxidize methane to methanol selectively at ambient conditions 1. The zeolite Cu-ZSM-5 was reported to activate the methane C-H bond—with a homolytic bond dissociation energy of 104 kcal/mol— at temperatures as low as 120 °C 2 after pretreatment in O2 3. The reactive copper species are believed to contain extra-lattice oxygen, and in the case of Cu-ZSM-5, to be a mono-μ-oxo-dicopper complex ([Cu—O—Cu]2+) 4. Although a correlation was found between the concentration of mono-μ-oxo-dicopper species and the amount of methanol produced by Cu-ZSM-5 5, no such correlation was found for other zeolites that produce methanol such as Cu-mordenite and Cu-ferrierite 2. We have recently showed methanol production on copper (II) exchanged small pore zeolites including SSZ-13 (CHA), SSZ-16 (AFX) and SSZ-39 (AEI) with yields as high as 39 μmol CH3OH/g and CH3OH/Cu ratios up to 0.09 (the largest reported to date).6 Here, copper species in these small pore zeolites were investigated with UV–vis and Raman spectroscopy after O2-treatment at a temperature of 450 °C. No evidence of mono-μ-oxo-dicopper species was found in the spectra of Cu-SSZ-13,Cu-SSZ-16 and Cu-SSZ-39 6, however Cu—Oextralattice vibrations at 574 cm-1 were detected in Raman spectra of Cu-SSZ-13 and Cu-SSZ-39 zeolites which is indicative of a different CuxOy active species responsible for methanol production in small pore zeolites.

1. Hanson, R. S.; Hanson, T. E., Methanotrophic Bacteria. Microbiological Reviews
1996, 60, 439-471.
2. Smeets, P. J.; Groothaert, M. H.; Schoonheydt, R. A., Cu based zeolites: A UV–vis
study of the active site in the selective methane oxidation at low temperatures.
Catal. Today 2005, 110 (3-4), 303-309.
3. Groothaert, M. H.; Smeets, P. J.; Sels, B. F.; Jacobs, P. A.; Schoonheydt, R. A.,
Selective Oxidation of Methane by the Bis(mu-oxo)dicopper Core Stabilized on
ZSM-5 and Mordenite Zeolites. Journal of American Chemical Society 2005, 127,
4. Woertink, J. S.; Smeets, P. J.; Groothaert, M. H.; Vance, M. A.; Sels, B. F.;
Schoonheydt, R. A.; Solomon, E. I., A [Cu2O]2+ core in Cu-ZSM-5, the active site in
the oxidation of methane to methanol. Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences of the United States of America 2009, 106 (45), 18908-13.
5. Beznis, N. V.; Weckhuysen, B. M.; Bitter, J. H., Cu-ZSM-5 Zeolites for the Formation
of Methanol from Methane and Oxygen: Probing the Active Sites and Spectator
Species. Catal. Lett. 2010, 138 (1-2), 14-22.
6. Wulfers, M. J.; Teketel, S.; Ipek, B.; Lobo, R. F., Conversion of Methane to Methanol
on Copper Containing Small Pore Zeolites and Zeotypes. Chem Commun 2015, xx,

Bridging Heterogeneous Catalysis and Electro-catalysis: Catalytic Reactions Involving Oxygen

Meeting Program – February 2015

Dr. Umit S. Ozkan
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
The Ohio State University

Umit Ozkan
Catalytic reactions that involve oxygen can be found in a large number of processes, including those in energy-related applications, in emission control and in processes important for the chemical industry. Whether the catalytic reaction is an oxygen insertion step as in a selective oxidation reaction, or an oxygen removal step as in a hydrodeoxygenation reaction, oxygen has proven to be a very challenging component, often determining the selectivity of the reaction. Some examples from our laboratories that bridge catalysis and electro-catalysis will be discussed, ranging from oxidative dehydrogenation of alkanes to oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cells.

Challenges and Advances in Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass using Zeolites

Meeting Program – January 2015

Dr. Julia Valla
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Thermochemical conversion of biomass to energy, fuels and chemicals is an attractive technology for the transition from fossil resources to a renewable-based economy. Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis (CFP) of biomass is a particularly interesting technology for biomass conversion considering the already extensive infrastructure for hydrocarbons production. However, many challenges remain unsolved before the deployment of the biomass CFP can be realized, including: a) char and coke formation, which causes rapid catalyst deactivation; and b) high oxygen content in the bio-oil, which makes it incompatible with today’s hydrocarbon fuels. With respect to the first challenge, it is imperative to first understand the origin and the formation of char and coke during CFP. Considering the second challenge, it is important to understand which catalyst properties can enhance the deoxygenation reactions and increase the bio-oil selectivity to hydrocarbons. ZSM-5 zeolites have been recognized as one of the most promising zeolites for CFP due to their shape selectivity and their deoxygenation ability. However, their micropore structure can limit the accessibility of heavy compounds to the active sites of their framework. Modifying the zeolite pore architecture to create hierarchical structures could provide a solution to this challenge. Furthermore, the CFP process design itself (in situ or ex situ) can alter the product yield and selectivity and, thus, the bio-oil quality. During this presentation we will discuss how the zeolite properties and location within the CFP process (in situ or ex situ) can affect the coke/char formation and the deoxygenation reactions for enhanced bio-oil quality.
Julia Valla
Ioulia (Julia) Valla is an Assistant Professor in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Connecticut. She received her PhD in the field of the development of new zeolites for the decomposition of sulfur compounds in naphtha and the production of environmental gasoline from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. She has served in a leadership role with Rive Technology, Inc. on the commercialization of a novel zeolite with ordered mesoporous structure for refinery applications. Dr. Valla’s research focuses on the modification of zeolites structure and their application in catalysis, adsorption and energy. She is the author/co-author of 9 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 1 book chapter and 2 patents. Dr. Valla is the recipient of the European Award “RUCADI, Recovery and Utilization of Carbon Dioxide” for her study on the role of CO2 on the reforming of natural gas for the production of methanol. At the University of Connecticut, Dr. Valla received an award sponsored by the National Science Foundation for the study “Turning Tars into Energy: Zeolites with Hierarchical Pore Structure for the Catalytic Removal of Tars”. The study is focused on a novel application of hierarchically structured mesoporous bifunctional catalysts for the thermochemical upgrading of undesirable tars from biomass pyrolysis or gasification to valuable hydrocarbons.

Call for Nominations of the 2015 Catalysis Club of Philadelphia Award

Each year the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia recognizes an outstanding member of the catalysis community, who has made significant contributions to the advancement of Catalysis. Such advancement can be scientific, technological, or in organization leadership. The Award consists of a plaque and a $1,000 cash prize.

We appreciate your help in submitting nominations. The entire nomination package, including a resume and recommendation letters, should not be more than 10 pages and should include a ½ page tentative award announcement. The deadline for the receipt of nominations is Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Prior nomination packages sent in 2013 or later will automatically be considered for the 2015 Award.

Nomination letters along with supporting materials should be emailed to
Carl Menning
Experimental Station, 328/306B
200 Powder Mill Rd.
Wilmington, DE 19803
Previous Winners of the Award

1968 Adalbert Farkas
1969 Charles J. Plank
1970 Paul H. Emmett
1971 G. Alex Mills
1972 Alfred E. Hirschler
1973 Paul B. Weisz
1974 Roland C. Hansford
1975 Paul Venuto
1976 Heinz Heinemann
1977 G.C.A. Schuit
1978 George W. Parshall
1979 Alvin B. Stiles
1980 Abraham Schneider
1981 James F. Roth
1982 Robert Eischens
1983 Edward Rosinski
1984 James R. Katzer
1985 N.Y. Chen
1986 Bruce C. Gates
1987 James E. Lyons
1988 George Kokotailo
1989 Maurice Mitchell, Jr.
1990 Werner O. Haag
1991 John A. Sofranko
1992 Fran Waller
1993 George Kerr
1994 Theodore A. Koch
1995 John N. Armor
1996 Mae Rubin
1997 Leo E. Manzer
1998 Ray Gorte
1999 Anne M. Gaffney
2000 Henry C. Foley
2001 Mark Barteau
2002 Steven D. Ittel
2003 Frank E. Herkes
2004 Jingguang Chen
2005 Israel Wachs
2006 James Dumesic
2007 John Vohs
2008 David Olson
2009 Ted Oyama
2010 Chuck Coe
2011 Chunshan Song
2012 Rostam Madon
2013 Daniel Resasco
2014 Haiying Chen
2015 Sourav Sengupta
2016 Dion Vlachos
2017 Thomas Colacot