Author Archives: Carl Menning

CO2 Conversion via Catalysis and Electrocatalysis

Meeting Program – January 2016

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

Abstract – Ocean acidification and climate change are expected to be two of the most difficult scientific challenges of the 21st century. 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 hydrocarbons through combination of CO2 reduction with Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactions. In the current talk we will discuss some of our recent results in CO2 conversion via both heterogenerous catalysis and electrocatalysis. Our research approaches involve the combination of DFT calculations and surface science studies over single crystal surfaces, evaluations over supported catalysts, and in-situ characterization under reaction conditions. We will also discuss challenges and opportunities in this important research field.
Biography – Jingguang Chen is the Thayer Lindsley Professor of chemical engineering at Columbia University. He received his PhD degree from the University of Pittsburgh and then carried out his Humboldt postdoctoral research 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 then took the roles as the director of the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology and the Claire LeClaire Professor of chemical engineering. He moved to Columbia University in 2012. He is the co-author of 20 US patents and over 300 journal articles with over 12,000 citations. He received many awards, including the awards from the catalysis clubs of Philadelphia (2004), New York (2008), Chicago (2011) and Michigan (2015). He recently won the 2015 George Olah award from the American Chemical Society.

Engineering Molecular Transformations over Supported Metal Catalysts for the Sustainable Conversion of Biomass-Derived Intermediates to Chemicals and Fuels

Meeting Program – October 2015

Matt Neurock
Matt Neurock
Shell Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
University of Minnesota

Abstract – Future strategies for energy production will undoubtedly require processes and materials that can efficiently convert sustainable resources such as biomass into fuels and chemicals. While nature’s enzymes elegantly integrate highly active centers together with adaptive nanoscale environments to 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 molecular transformations proceed over inorganic materials. The tremendous advances in ab initio theoretical methods, molecular simulations and high performance computing that have occurred over the past two decades provide unprecedented ability to track these 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 discusses recent advances in computational catalysis and their application to engineering molecular transformations for the conversion of biomass into chemicals and fuels. We will discuss the active sites, mechanisms and nanoscale reaction environments involved in specific bond making and breaking reactions important in the conversion of biomass-derived intermediates into chemicals and fuels and the design of 3D environments necessary to carry out such transformations.
Biography – Matt Neurock is the Shell Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota. He received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 1992. He worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands from 1992-1993 and subsequently as Visiting Scientist in the Corporate Catalysis Center at DuPont from 1993-1994. He joined the faculty in Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia in 1995 where he held joint appointments in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. In 2014 he moved to the University of Minnesota and is currently on the faculty in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. He has made seminal advances to development and application of computational methods toward understanding catalytic and electrocatalytic reaction mechanisms, and the sites and environments that carry out reactions under working conditions. He has received various awards for his research in computational catalysis and molecular reaction engineering including the Robert Burwell Lectureship from the North American Catalysis Society, R.H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis from the North American Catalysis Society, Distinguished Visiting Professor of University of Montpellier, Eastman Chemical Lecturer at the University of California Berkeley, Richard S. H. Mah Lecturer at Northwestern University, Johansen-Crosby Lecturer at Michigan State University, NSF Career Development Award, DuPont Young Investigator Award, Ford Young Faculty Award. He has co-authored over 240 papers, two patents and two books. He is an editor for the Journal of Catalysis and serves on numerous other editorial and advisory boards.

Catalysis for renewable fuels and chemicals: Challenges today and a look into where we are going

Meeting Program – November 2015

John Holladay
John Holladay
Biomass Sector Manager, and Associate Director of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Abstract – Renewable carbon sources, such as biomass and sugars, offer alternative starting materials for producing fuels and chemicals. However, catalysis of highly oxygenated materials, often operating in the condensed phase, present substantial challenges with catalyst deactivation due to poisoning and reactor bed/support stability. In essence, the catalysts developed within the petrochemical industry are often not suitable and new solutions are needed if we are to match the efficiency that has been born from nearly 90 years of science and technology aimed at hydrocarbon processing.
In covering challenges today we will survey two families of catalytic technologies that produce fuels—with an emphasis on distillates and mid-distillates and chemical products. These technologies will cover (i) upgrading of oxygenates (from alcohols to complex bio-oils) and (ii) catalysis of fermentation derived molecules that have been minimally processed. The primary focus will be on problems and specific solutions that allowed long term, stable and efficient operation under continuous reaction conditions suitable for industry.
In part 2 of the lecture we will take a forward look toward where we would like to move the state of catalyst technology to allow processing of a broader range of carbon from waste resources at the (small) size of the point source while keeping capital and operating cost low. Such feedstocks include gaseous streams, such as CO-rich off gas; wet streams from food processing and waste water sludges; as well as dry streams from agriculture and forest residues or municipal solid waste.
Biography – John Holladay joined the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in 2001 after working for five years at Union Carbide in South Charleston, WV. John currently serves as the Biomass Sector Manager at PNNL, where he is responsible for shaping PNNL’s strategy and vision for renewable fuels and chemicals. The program focuses on multiple areas including: developing cost-effective catalysts for renewable carbon conversion, learning from the efficiency that fungi offers for naturally processing biomass, and understanding alternative means for producing biomass in waste streams that are wet/dry or gaseous. He facilitates PNNL’s collaboration with others in academia, industry and government to advance the nation’s biofuels research. He served as Chief Scientific Officer for the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium, Chief Operations Officer for the National Alliance for Biofuels and Bioproducts and is currently an Associate Director of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis at PNNL.

2015 Annual Student Poster Competition

This is the first call for posters for the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia’s annual Student Poster Contest to be held Thursday, November 19th, 2015 at the Double Tree Hotel, 4727 Concord Pike (Rt. 202) in Wilmington, DE. To enter, please submit a short abstract of your proposed entry before November 1st, 2015, to Bingjun Xu at The CCP Poster Abstract template can be found here.

The competition is restricted to graduate students only. Post-docs are welcome to present their posters but are not eligible for prizes. All poster presenters should be listed as the first author, and will be guests of the Catalysis Club for the evening. As in past years Catalysis Club members and guests will cast their votes for favorite poster and a panel of industrial judges will select the 5 best posters from the top 10 posters. Total prizes award of $550 will be distributed between the winners, $150 will go to the overall winner and $100 each to the 4 other winners. The one overall winner will be invited to present his or her work at the annual Catalysis Club symposium in Spring 2016.

The Catalysis Club of Philadelphia is very proud of this event and views it as one of the region’s premier opportunities for graduate students to showcase their work with the local chemical industry professionals. All graduate students whose work is either directly or indirectly related to catalysis science and technology are encouraged to submit entries. View the official announcement here.

Welcome to the 2015-16 Season of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia

Dear Colleagues:
On behalf of the organizing committee, I would like to welcome you to join us for the 67th season of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia. We are proud to continue the legacy set forth by the original 7 scientists who established this club in 1949 of holding meetings to stimulate discussions among the academic and industrial catalysis scientists in the greater Philadelphia area. We hope that you will join us by attending the excellent selection of talks that have been arranged for this season.

We are excited to announce the speaker lineup for our monthly meetings that has been coordinated by Alan Allgeier of DuPont. Following our tradition, the first meeting presentation of the season will be given by the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia Awardee, Sourav Sengupta of DuPont. The full season speaker schedule along with various special events is listed below.

Date Speaker Special Event
Sept. 17, 2015 Sourav Sengupta, DuPont CCP Award Lecture
Oct. 15, 2015 Matt Neurock, U of M
Nov. 19, 2015 John Holladay, PNNL Poster Session
Jan. 21, 2016 Jingguang Chen, Columbia U.
Feb. 18, 2016 Susannah Scott, UCSB Officer Nominations
March 24, 2016 TBA Officer Nominations
April 21, 2016 Rob Rioux, PSU Officer Elections
May 2016 CCP Spring Symposium

Our annual student poster competition will take place in November and will be coordinated by Bingjun Xu of University of Delaware. The poster session provides a great opportunity for local graduate students to present their work to a broad catalysis audience and for companies to look for potential candidates. Additionally, selected students will also give brief presentations at several monthly meetings. The nominations of CCP officers for the 2016-17 season will take place in February with elections scheduled for April. Anton Petushkov of Zeolyst International will organize the CCP Spring Symposium in May 2016.

The monthly meetings will continue to be held at the Doubletree Hotel on US-202 in Wilmington, DE. The cost of the dinner will remain at $35.00 for members, $20.00 for students/retirees and will include one drink during the social hour. The fees for walk-ins and non-members will be $40.00. We strongly encourage advance reservations for the meetings. Dues for the 2015-16 season will remain at $25.00 ($5.00 for the local club and $20.00 to the national club). Dues for students, postdocs and retirees will be $10.00 ($5.00 for the local club and $5.00 to the national club).

You can receive our latest information and news through our website at, through LinkedIn, and also Facebook. While you can still work with your company representative, we would like to strongly encourage you to try our online registration form or contact our arrangements chair, Alex Mironenko, directly.

If you would like to receive our monthly announcements or need to update your contact information, please contact our Membership Director, Eric Sacia of DuPont.

The strength of our club has always revolved around our generous industrial sponsors and members of our monthly meetings. Please continue to support CCP by attending the meetings and by inviting your colleagues. I am looking forward to seeing you all on September 17th to start off another great season. Please also feel free to contact me or the other officers throughout the season with any comments or suggestions for how we can improve the club.
Best regards,
Torren Carlson

Catalysis – An Indispensable Tool

Meeting Program – September 2015

Sourav Sengupta
Sourav Sengupta
Molecular Sciences, CR&D
E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co
Wilmington, DE
Abstract – In the past three decades, there has been a concerted effort in the chemical, agrochemical, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and petroleum industries to design cost-advantaged, inherently safer, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly processes. Catalysis plays a crucial role in improving process efficiencies and process intensification leading to increased atom utilization, reduced by-product formation, cheaper process, and lower capital investment. Also, there is an increasing interest in using renewably-sourced feedstocks for the production of fuels, chemicals, and advanced materials due to fluctuations in petroleum prices, limited availability of petroleum resources, and increasing consumer consciousness about sustainable processes.
Although catalysis is a major tour-de-force in driving this efficacious and green chemistry revolution, the role of reaction engineering, reactor design, process development, and optimum operating conditions cannot be underestimated. Some of the fundamental concepts of catalysis will be discussed and linked to chemical processes of industrial relevance. Specifically, the role of science and engineering in industrial catalysis will be illustrated with particular emphasis on catalyst evaluation, process optimization, catalyst deactivation, and reactor design associated with industrial processes. Case studies will include hydrogenation reactions using supported base metal and precious metal catalysts and solid acid catalyzed reactions, including the hydrogenation of hexafluoroacetone and catmint oil, and dehydration of xylose.
Biography – Dr. Sourav K. Sengupta is a Research Fellow in the Molecular Sciences Division (Central Research & Development Department) of E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. He received his PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 1991. Immediately after completing his PhD, Dr. Sengupta joined the DuPont Company and was placed on loan to Conoco where he developed novel pathways for the oxidative desulfurization of gasoline and qualified new hydrodesulfurization and FCC catalysts. Shortly afterwards, he was transferred to the Corporate Catalysis Center (CR&D). At CR&D, he worked on solid acid, solid base, and hydrogenation catalysis programs and made important contributions to a number of Strategic Business Unit (SBUs).
Dr. Sengupta spent several years at DuPont’s Nylon business unit, where he worked on a number of commercial processes and research programs, including low-pressure and high-pressure ADN hydrogenation, hydrogen cyanide synthesis by Andrussow and induction-heating processes, and nitrous oxide destruction catalyst technology.
When DuPont sold their Nylon, polyester, and Lycra businesses to Koch Industries, Dr. Sengupta joined Invista, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, where his work involved investigating the technical and economic feasibility of caprolactam commercialization.
After a short stint at Invista, Dr. Sengupta came back to DuPont, and joined their Chemical Solutions Enterprise (DCSE) as a manufacturing technical chemist at Chambers Works in New Jersey. His responsibility covered 42 different specialty chemicals. There he worked with a team of experts to design, develop, and commercialize a novel hydrogenation process for the production of hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP) and hexafluoroacetone (HFA) recovery process. He was also involved in the commercialization of a number of Capstone products. In 2009, he started up a Process Development Center for DCSE at the Experimental Station. In 2011, he moved back to CR&D and has been working on a number of R&D programs on using renewable feedstock to manufacture chemicals and materials and new catalyst development.
Dr. Sengupta’s expertise is in the area of catalysis, reaction engineering and reactor analysis, and process development. He has over 65 US patents, publications, and presentations to his credit.

Dr. Sourav Sengupta is the Winner of the 2015 Catalysis Club of Philadelphia Award

Sourav SenguptaThe Catalysis Club of Philadelphia is pleased to announce that Dr. Sourav K. Sengupta, Research Fellow – DuPont Central Research and Development, has been selected as the 2015 Catalysis Club of Philadelphia Award winner. The selection recognizes his significant contributions to the science and practice of catalysis, along with his efforts in mentoring young scientists.

Dr. Sengupta earned his Ph.D. Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 1991 and has held a variety of research and development assignments at DuPont. He was the founding leader of the Process Development Center for DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise and his efforts led to the commercialization of several new specialty chemical products and optimization of several existing catalysts and catalytic processes, which collectively generate tens of millions of dollars.

To achieve these accomplishments, Sengupta applies an in depth understanding of heterogeneous catalyst structure / function relationships in oxide materials, supported metal catalysts and bulk metal catalysts. He was a primary contributor to a novel process for on-demand hydrogen cyanide production via induction heating of Pt-Rh gauze and optimized oxide supported base metal catalysts for abatement of ozone depleting effluent gases. Recently, Dr. Sengupta has directed his expertise toward the utilization of bio-renewable resources for the production of fuels and chemicals.

Beyond technical contributions, he is recognized for his efforts at mentoring young scientists and engineers. Countless careers have benefited from his technical and organizational insights. He has shared these through formal interactions, such serving as instructor for a short course on Hydrogenation Catalysis and on the board of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia but more importantly through personal interactions with junior colleagues. The Catalysis Club of Philadelphia is proud to recognize Dr. Sourav Sengupta for his combination of technical excellence and mentoring with the granting of its 2015 award.

Past Recipients 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