Author Archives: Carl Menning

Converting CO2 via Thermocatalysis and Electrocatalysis

Meeting Program – October 2017

Jingguang Chen
Jingguang Chen
Thayer Lindsley Professor of Chemical Engineering
Columbia University


Abstract – Rising atmospheric concentration of CO2 is forecasted to have potentially disastrous effects on the enviroment from its role in global warming and ocean acidification. Converting CO2 into valuable chemicals and fuels is one of the most practical routes for reducing CO2 emissions while fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy sector. The catalytic reduction of CO2 by H2 can lead to the formation of three types of products: CO through the reverse water-gas shift (RWGS) reaction, methanol via selective hydrogenation, and methane by the methanation pathway. In the current talk we will first describe our efforts in controlling the catalytic selectivity for the three products using a combination of DFT calculations and surface science studies over single crystal surfaces, catalytic evaluation of supported catalysts, and in-situ characterization under reaction conditions. Next, we will discuss our efforts in converting CO2 without using H2. This is motivated by the fact that ~95% of H2 is generated from hydrocarbon-based feedstocks, producing CO2 as a byproduct. We will present two approaches to avoid using H2 for CO2 conversion. The first approach involves the utilization of light alkanes, such as ethane, to directly reduce CO2 via the dry reforming pathway to produce synthesis gas (C2H6 + 2CO2 → 4CO + 3H2) and the oxidative dehydrogenation route to generate ethylene (C2H6 + CO2 → C2H4 + CO + H2O). The second approach is the electrolysis of CO2 to produce synthesis gas with controlled CO/H2 ratios. We will conclude our presentation by providing a perspective on the challenges and opportunities in converting CO2 via various routes in thermocatalysis and electrocatalysis.

Biography – Jingguang Chen is the Thayer Lindsley Professor of chemical engineering at Columbia University, with a joint appointment as a senior chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He received his PhD degree from the University of Pittsburgh and then carried out his Humboldt postdoctoral research in KFA-Julich in Germany. After spending several years as a staff scientist at Exxon Corporate Research, he started his academic career at the University of Delaware in 1998 and rose to the rank of the Claire LeClaire Professor of chemical engineering and the director of the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology. He moved to Columbia University in 2012. He is the co-author of 21 US patents and over 340 journal publications with over 15,000 citations. He is currently the president of the North American Catalysis Society (NACS) and an associate editor of ACS Catalysis. He received many catalysis awards, including the 2015 George Olah award from ACS and the 2017 Robert Burwell Lectureship from NACS.

Structure Activity Relationships in Homogeneous Catalysis

Meeting Program – September 2017

Thomas Colacot
Thomas Colacot
Technical Fellow & Global R & D Manager
Johnson Matthey


Abstract – Homogeneous catalysis is a molecular phenomenon, where the structure of the catalyst plays a significant role on the activity and selectivity of a catalytic reaction. Three cases studies will be discussed during the talk to explain the phenomena. The topics are

  1. High purity palladium acetate vs commercial in organic synthesis
  2. Ir pre catalysts for C-H activated borylation
  3. Generation of L1Pd(0) catalysts for advanced cross coupling.


  • Book: New Trends in Cross Coupling: Theory and Applications, ed. Thomas J. Colacot, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-84973-896-5
  • Carin C. C. Johansson Seechurn, Thomas Sperger, Theresa. G. Scrase, Franziska. Schoenebeck and Thomas. J. Colacot*, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017 (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b01110). This work was featured in the April 5 th issue of C & EN. Please see:
  • William A. Carole and Thomas J. Colacot* Chem. Eur. J, 2016, 22, 7686 (with journal cover graphics – this work was featured in C & EN. page 20, May 2 nd, 2016)
  • Peter G. Gildner, Andrew DeAngelis, and Thomas J. Colacot*, Org. Lett., 2016, 18 (6), 1442–1445 DOI: 10.1021/acs.orglett.6b0037
  • William A. Carole, Jonathan Bradley, Misbah Sarwar and Thomas J. Colacot* Org. Lett., 2015, 17 (21), 5472–5475. DOI: 10.1021/acs.orglett. 5b02835
  • Thomas. J. Colacot, Angew Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 54, 15611-15612.
  • Peter G. Gildner and Thomas J. Colacot* Organometallics, 2015, 34 (23), 5497–5508. DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.5b00567
  • Andrew J. DeAngelis , Peter G. Gildner , Ruishan Chow , and Thomas J. Colacot* J. Org. Chem., 2015, 80 (13), pp 6794–6813, DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.5b01005
  • Carin C. C. Johansson Seechurn, Vilvanathan Sivakumar, Deepak Satoskar and Thomas J. Colacot*, Organometallics, 2014, 33, 3514−3522.

Biography – Dr. Thomas J. Colacot received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from IIT Madras in 1989, following a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Kerala in 1981 and 1983, respectively. After his doctoral and post-doctoral studies in the US, Dr. Colacot went on to pursue an education in management, acquiring an MBA from Pennsylvania State University in 2005, while working at Johnson Matthey. Before joining Johnson Matthey in 1995, Dr. Colacot had also worked as a Research Associate Southern Methodist University (TX, USA) on a project funded by Advanced Technology Program, as an Assistant Professor at Florida A&M University, and as a Post-Doctoral/Teaching Fellow at University of Alabama. Having climbed up the ranks from Development Associate (bench chemist), Dr. Colacot is currently the Technical Fellow at Johnson Matthey, USA, the highest technical rank for a scientist with reports from different parts of the world.

As a researcher, Dr. Colacot has focused on many areas of homogenous catalysis, particularly becoming proficient in palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling. He also has extensive experience in organometallic and organic syntheses, and in process chemistry. His work is reflected in several patents to his name, more than one hundred peer-reviewed publications, and numerous invited lectures and seminars spanning India, USA, China, and Europe. His recently edited book: New Trends in Cross Coupling: Theory and Applications by the Royal Society of Chemistry is widely used in academia and industry. Through his work, Dr. Colacot is credited with being a leading influence in developing exceptional catalytic systems for the advancement of metal-catalyzed synthetic organic chemistry for real world applications such as drug development, OLED’s/liquid crystals and agriculture. His emphasis in designing catalysts and catalytic processes has been on their applicability in industrial settings, particularly pertaining to agriculture, electronics and medicine. He is the finest example of a link between academia and industry.

Dr. Colacot’s contributions to the field have resulted in many awards and accolades, amongst them the recent prestigious IIT Madras 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award for Technology Innovations and Chemical Research Society of India (2016 CRSI) Medal for outstanding contributions in Organometallics and Homogeneous Catalysis. He is the first Indian to be awarded the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Award in Industrial Chemistry in 2015. He also received the 2015 IPMI Henry Alfred Award (2015) from the International Precious Metal Institute, sponsored by the BASF. In 2014 he received the Indian American Kerala Culture and Civic Center Award for his outstanding contributions in Applied Sciences. In addition, he received Royal Society of Chemistry 2012 Applied Catalysis Award and Medal. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK.

2017 Spring Symposium

8:00 AMRegistration / Breakfast
8:55 AMOpening Remarks
9:00 AMEmerging Challenges In Catalysis For Sustainable Production Of Transport Fuels: An Industrial View
Dr. John Shabaker, BP Products North America
Abstract »
9:40 AMScience And Technology Of Framework Metal-Containing Molecular Sieves Catalysts
Prof. Laszlo Nemeth, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Abstract »
10:20 AMCoffee Break
10:40 AMSynthesis Of Zincosilicate Catalysts For The Oligomerization Of Propylene
Dr. Mark Deimund, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company
Abstract »
11:20 AMZeolite Catalysis With A Focus on Downstream Refining Applications
Dr. C.Y. Chen, Chevron Energy Technology Company
Abstract »
12:00 PMLunch
1:20 PMContinuous Reactors For Homogeneous Catalysis In Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
Dr. Martin Johnson, Eli Lilly and Company
Abstract »
2:00 PMMechanisms And Materials For Alkaline Hydrogen Electrocatalysis
Prof. Maureen Tang, Drexel University
Abstract »
2:40 PM Award Announcement
2:55 PMCoffee Break
3:15 PMProduction Of para-Methylstyrene And para-Divinylbenzene From Furanic Compounds
Maura Koehle, University of Delaware (Student Poster Award Speaker)
Abstract »
3:35 PMDesign Of Complex Metal/Metal-oxide Heterogeneous Catalytic Materials For Energy And Chemical Conversion
Prof. Eranda Nikolla, Wayne State University
Abstract »
4:15 PMThe Mechanism Of CO2 Reduction Over Pd/Al2O3: A Combined Steady State Isotope Transient Kinetic Analysis (SSITKA) And Operando FTIR Investigation
Dr. János Szanyi, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Abstract »
4:55 PMClosing Remarks
5:00 PMConference Adjourns

2016 Spring Symposium

8:00 AMRegistration / Breakfast
8:50 AMOpening Remarks
9:00 AMScience and Serendipity in Heterogeneous Catalysis Research
Ive Hermans, University of Wisconsin - Madison
9:40 AMHydrogen Spillover to Carbon Supports: Bridging the Gap Between Experiment and Theory
Angela Lueking, Pennsylvania State University
10:20 AMCoffee Break
10:40 AMDesign and Synthesis of Nanostructured Carbide and Nitride Based Catalysts
Levi Thompson, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
11:20 AMMicrolith Coated Mesh Substrates for Process Intensification
Jeffrey Weissman, Precision Combustion
12:00 PMLunch
1:20 PMCatalytic Conversion of Sour Natural Gas into Value Added Fuels and Chemicals
Jonas Baltrusaitis, Lehigh University
2:00 PMSerendipitous Discovery of a Nano-structured Yttrium Oxychloride Catalyst for the Selective Dehydration of Phenol
David Barton, Dow Chemical Co.
2:40 PMCoffee Break
3:00 PM Award Announcement
3:20 PMStabilization of Metastable Oxides via Surface Modification
Daniel Gregory, Lehigh University
3:40 PMControlling the Al Distribution and Cu Speciation and Proximity in Cu-SSZ-13 Zeolites: Consequences for NOx SCR Catalysis
Raj Gounder, Purdue University
4:20 PMClosing Remarks
4:30 PMConference Adjourns

2016-2017 Meeting Program

Thursday, Sept. 15th, 2016Dion VlachosIn Silico Prediction of Materials for Energy Applications
Dion Vlachos, University of Delaware - 2016 CCP Award Winner
Abstract » | Announcement »

Thursday, Oct. 27th, 2016Keiichi TomishigeDevelopment of heterogeneous catalysts for the production of biomass-derived chemicals by selective C-O hydrogenolysis and deoxydehydration
Keiichi Tomishige, Tohoku University
Abstract » | Announcement »

Student Speaker
Thursday, Nov. 10th, 2016Ravindra DattaUnraveling Catalytic Mechanisms and Kinetics: Lessons from Electrical Networks
Ravindra Datta, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Abstract » | Announcement »
Graduate Student Poster Session
Thursday, Jan. 19th, 2017Ahmad MoiniCiapetta Award Lecture:
Novel Zeolite Catalysts for Diesel Emission Applications

Ahmad Moini, BASF
Abstract » | Announcement »

Student Speaker
Thursday, Feb. 16th, 2017Raul LoboBiomass and Natural Gas Valorization by Zeolite Catalysis
Raul Lobo, University of Delaware
Abstract »

Student Speaker
Officer Nominations
Thursday, Mar. 16th, 2017Manuela SerbanParallel between UOP’s Reforming and Dehydrogenation Technologies and Catalysts
Manuela Serban, Honeywell (UOP)
Abstract »
Officer Nominations
Thursday, Apr. 20th, 2017Avelino CormaSolid Catalysts Design: From Fundamental Knowledge To Catalytic Application
Avelino Corma, Instituto de Tecnología Química
Abstract »  |  Announcement »
Officer Elections
May 2017Spring Symposium
Online Dinner Reservation » | Directions to Double Tree Hotel »

2016-2017 Officers

2016-2017 Officers


Anton Petushkov
Zeolyst Inter­na­tional
Past Chair
Torren Carlson
Josh Pacheco
Zeolyst Inter­na­tional
Lifeng Wang
Zeolyst International
Dan Slanac
Program Chair
Istvan Halasz
Zeolyst International
Arrangements Chair
Tzia Ming
University of Pennsylvania
Director Membership
Jacob Dickinson
Director Poster Session
Eric Sacia
Director Sponsorship
Thomas Yeh
Johnson Matthey
Carl Menning
Sentry Data Systems
Representative to NACS
Dion Vlachos
University of Delaware

Production of para-methylstyrene and para-divinylbenzene from furanic compounds

2017 Spring Symposium

Molly Koehle and Raul Lobo, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE

Abstract – Of the three isomers of methylstyrene, para-methylstyrene is highly desirable because it yields polymers with superior properties over polystyrene and mixed poly-methylstyrene [1]. However, controlling the substitution of methylstyrene via direct acylation or alkylation of toluene is difficult because even though the para isomer is favored, meta and ortho isomers are also formed [1, 2], and separation of the isomer mixture is very difficult due to their nearly identical properties.

The Diels-Alder cycloaddition and dehydration of substituted furans with ethylene is a plausible route to p-methylstyrene since it is inherently selective to para aromatic species. We have successfully developed a three-step catalytic route to p-methylstyrene from methylfuran (Scheme 1) at high yield and very high isomer selectivity. The process uses Friedel-Crafts acylation, selective reductions with hydrogen and Diels-Alder cycloaddition with ethylene. The raw materials—furans, ethylene and acetic acid—can all be derived from biomass [3,4], thus allowing ‘green’ styrene production from renewable carbon sources. This approach has also been extended to the production of p-divinylbenzene. As the acylation step is known to be catalyzed by Lewis acids, recent work has focused on studying this step on Brønsted and Lewis acid zeolites and will be presented as well.

Scheme 1: Production of para-methylstyrene from methylfuran

[1] W.W. Kaeding and G.C. Barile, in: B.M. Culbertson and C.U. Pittman, Jr. (Eds.), New Monomers and Polymers, Plenum Press, New York, NY, 1984, pp. 223-241.
[2]“Aromatic Substitution Reactions.”
[3] A.A. Rosatella; S.P. Simeonov; R.F.M. Frade, R.F.M..; C.A.M. Afonso, Green Chem., 13 (2011) 754.
[4] C.H. Christensen; J. Rass-Hansen; C.C. Marsden; E. Taarning; K. Egeblad, ChemSusChem, 1 (2008) 283.

Biography – Molly obtained her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and her M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut. She has worked at the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation in Prof. Raul Lobo’s group since 2013. Her work focuses on transformations of biomass to fuels and chemicals with Bronsted and Lewis acid zeolites.