Author Archives: Vlad Nikolakis

Theodore A. Koch Travel Award 2018–2019

Dear Col­leagues,

The Catal­y­sis Club of Philadel­phia (CCP) is tak­ing appli­ca­tions for the Theodore A. Koch Trav­el Award. 

The award is spon­sored in mem­o­ry of T.A Koch in order to rec­og­nize and reward grad­u­ate stu­dent achieve­ments in catal­y­sis research. T.A. Koch (1925–2014) was a chemist who worked at DuPont, and spent his entire career devel­op­ing chem­i­cal process­es and bring­ing them from the bench­top to com­mer­cial­iza­tion with marked cre­ativ­i­ty and tenac­i­ty. The award will pro­vide finan­cial sup­port to a grad­u­ate stu­dent up to the amount of $1000 to attend a con­fer­ence of his or her choice. The amount can be used to cov­er reg­is­tra­tion fees and/or trav­el expens­es.

Eli­gi­bil­i­ty: Grad­u­ate stu­dents that are mem­bers of the CCP and have paid the annu­al dues ($10).  Selec­tion will be based on poten­tial impact of the trav­el award to the student’s career goals, finan­cial need and over­all mer­it. (The com­plet­ed appli­ca­tion form should not exceed three pages.)

The appli­ca­tion form is due Feb­ru­ary 11th 2019, and the win­ner will be announced at our Feb­ru­ary 21st meet­ing.

Please send your appli­ca­tions to Eric Sacia (CCP Chair, eric.​r.​sacia@​dupont.​com).


Best Regards,

Eric Sacia

2018–2019 CCP Chair

Engineering Industrial Catalysts: A Personal Journey

Jan­u­ary 2019
Dr. Car­mo Pereira
DuPont Clean Tech­nolo­gies

Abstract: Indus­tri­al reac­tors enable chem­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions that may upgrade the qual­i­ty of the feed, pro­duce chem­i­cals, and/or reduce process pol­lu­tants. The cat­a­lysts in these reac­tors are engi­neered to obtain the required (steady state) through­put of prod­uct over a cer­tain time. In addi­tion to through­put, there are addi­tion­al com­mer­cial­iza­tion con­straints that involve cost, uptime, emis­sions, and project tim­ing. The prop­er design of the cat­a­lyst and reac­tor often is key to the suc­cess­ful deploy­ment of the process.
In addi­tion to iden­ti­fy­ing the active site and the reac­tion mech­a­nism, addi­tion­al appli­ca­tion devel­op­ment work is required to com­mer­cial­ize a cat­a­lyst. The active site must func­tion with­in a range of oper­at­ing con­di­tions and in the pres­ence of impu­ri­ties that may impact activ­i­ty and selec­tiv­i­ty. Reac­tor pres­sure drop con­straints can dic­tate the size and struc­ture of the cat­a­lyst. The avail­abil­i­ty of active sites in a pel­let is max­i­mized by opti­miz­ing its size, shape and pore struc­ture to min­i­mize heat and mass trans­port lim­i­ta­tions. The num­ber of active sites in a cat­a­lyst may dra­mat­i­cal­ly decrease with time due to poi­son­ing, mask­ing, sin­ter­ing, or pore block­age. An under­stand­ing of the deac­ti­va­tion mech­a­nism under oper­at­ing con­di­tions pro­vides a basis for the reac­tor oper­at­ing strat­e­gy and for siz­ing reac­tors that have a war­rant­ed life. A process flow­sheet con­tain­ing a use­ful reac­tor mod­el may be sub­se­quent­ly val­ue-engi­neered to cost-effec­tive­ly meet the pro­cess­ing objec­tive.
This talk will present sev­er­al vignettes from the author’s expe­ri­ence where chem­i­cal reac­tion engi­neer­ing method­olo­gies were used to engi­neer indus­tri­al cat­a­lysts used in petro­chem­i­cal, chem­i­cal, and envi­ron­men­tal appli­ca­tions.

Catalysis Club of Philadelphia’s Annual Student Poster Session – Award Winners

Despite some unfore­seen and unsafe weath­er con­di­tions that led to can­cel­la­tions, there was still quite an impres­sive turnout lead­ing to anoth­er suc­cess­ful CCP poster ses­sion this year! Some ~19 stu­dents/­post-docs braved the weath­er and pre­sent­ed. For those who were not able to attend due to weath­er, we hope to see you (and bet­ter weath­er) next year. Whether you could attend or not, thanks to every­one for your com­mit­ment to mak­ing this anoth­er fan­tas­tic year for CCP!
Five win­ners were cho­sen based on crowd vot­ing fol­lowed by indi­vid­ual judg­ing by CCP offi­cers. Each win­ner will receive a mon­e­tary reward and the over­all win­ner is invit­ed to give a talk at the annu­al CCP Sym­po­sium in Spring 2019.

2018 CCP Poster Ses­sion Win­ners
Natalia Rodriquez Quiroz
Chao Lin
Elvis Ebikade
Jen­nifer Lee
Yuan Cheng

Left-to-right: Eric Sacia (CCP Chair), Yuan Cheng, Natalia Rodriquez Quiroz, Jen­nifer Lee, Elvis Ebikade, and Chao Lin. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all the win­ners!

How can the modern scanning transmission electron microscope aid catalysis science?

Novem­ber 2018
Prof. Eric A. Stach
Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia
E-mail: stach@​seas.​upenn.​edu, Web:
Abstract: The past decade or so have seen a num­ber of tech­no­log­i­cal advances in the field of trans­mis­sion elec­tron microscopy that have dra­mat­i­cal­ly enhanced both the util­i­ty and uti­liza­tion of the instru­ment in the field of het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis. These include aber­ra­tion cor­rec­tion, enhanced detec­tors and improve­ments in sim­u­la­tion and analy­sis soft­ware. In this pre­sen­ta­tion, I will present sev­er­al spe­cif­ic exam­ples from both my own research and from oth­ers in the field to pro­vide a gen­er­al overview of the state of the art. In spe­cif­ic, I will describe the lim­its of spa­tial, spec­tro­scop­ic and tem­po­ral ener­gy res­o­lu­tion, and demon­strate how one can per­form both real time and operan­do mea­sure­ments do char­ac­ter­ize the inter­re­la­tion­ships between cat­a­lyst struc­ture and cat­a­lyst func­tion. Through the pre­sen­ta­tion, I will empha­size how these tech­niques are being imple­ment­ed at the Singh Cen­ter for Nan­otech­nol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and how they are thus acces­si­ble to mem­bers of the Cat­a­lyst Club of Philadel­phia.

Ultra-Deep Diesel Hydrodesulfurization Catalysis and Process: A Tale of Two Sites

Octo­ber 2018 — F.G. Cia­pet­ta Award Lec­ture

Dr. Teh C. Ho
Hydro­car­bon Con­ver­sion Tech­nolo­gies
E-mail: , Web:
Abstract: Hydrodesul­fu­r­iza­tion cat­a­lysts have two types of active sites for hydro­gena­tion and hydrogenol­y­sis reac­tions. While hydro­gena­tion sites are more active for desul­fu­r­iz­ing refrac­to­ry sul­fur species, they are more vul­ner­a­ble to organon­i­tro­gen inhi­bi­tion than hydrogenol­y­sis sites. In con­trast, hydrogenol­y­sis sites are less active for desul­fu­r­iz­ing refrac­to­ry sul­fur species but are more resis­tant to organon­i­tro­gen inhi­bi­tion. This dichoto­my is exploit­ed to devel­op an ultra-deep hydrodesul­fu­r­iza­tion stacked-bed reac­tor com­pris­ing two cat­a­lysts of dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics. The per­for­mance of this cat­a­lyst sys­tem can be supe­ri­or or infe­ri­or to that of either cat­a­lyst alone. A the­o­ry is devel­oped to pre­dict the opti­mum stack­ing con­fig­u­ra­tion for max­i­mum syn­er­gies between the two cat­a­lysts. The best con­fig­u­ra­tion pro­vides the pre­cise envi­ron­ment for the cat­a­lysts to reach their full poten­tials, result­ing in the small­est reac­tor vol­ume and max­i­mum ener­gy sav­ing. Mod­el pre­dic­tions are con­sis­tent with exper­i­men­tal results. A selec­tiv­i­ty-activ­i­ty dia­gram is devel­oped for guid­ing the devel­op­ment of stacked-bed cat­a­lyst sys­tems.

Catalysis by Pincer-Iridium Complexes. Breaking C-H Bonds, Making C-C Bonds, and Various Combinations Thereof

Sep­tem­ber 2018

Pro­fes­sor Alan S. Gold­man
Depart­ment of Chem­istry and Chem­i­cal Biol­o­gy, Rut­gers — The State Uni­ver­si­ty of New Jer­sey
E-mail: alan.​goldman@​rutgers.​edu, Web: http://​ccb​.rut​gers​.edu/​g​o​l​d​m​a​n​-​a​lan
Abstract: Irid­i­um com­plex­es have played a lead­ing role in the organometal­lic chem­istry of
alka­nes and unre­ac­tive C-H bonds since the incep­tion of the field 30 years ago. We have found
that “PCP”-pincer-ligated irid­i­um com­plex­es are par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive for the dehy­dro­gena­tion of
alka­nes and have incor­po­rat­ed this reac­tion into tan­dem sys­tems for sev­er­al cat­alyt­ic
trans­for­ma­tions based on dehy­dro­gena­tion. A close­ly relat­ed class of reac­tions that we are
explor­ing is dehy­dro­gena­tive cou­pling. More recent­ly we have turned atten­tion to irid­i­um
Phe­box com­plex­es. Although the (PCP)Ir and (Phebox)Ir units are for­mal­ly iso­elec­tron­ic, the
for­mer oper­ates via C-H acti­va­tion by Ir(I) while the lat­ter effects dehy­dro­gena­tion via Ir(III) (as
an acetate com­plex) and pos­si­bly Ir(V) inter­me­di­ates. Such a high-oxi­da­tion-state cat­alyt­ic cycle
offers advan­tages for many poten­tial appli­ca­tions of dehy­dro­gena­tion. In par­al­lel, how­ev­er, we
find that the low-oxi­da­tion-state (+I) chem­istry of (Phebox)Ir offers its own nov­el hydro­car­bon
1. Gao, Y.; Guan, C.; Zhou, M.; Kumar, A.; Emge, T. J.; Wright, A. M.; Gold­berg, K. I.; Krogh-Jes­persen, K.; Gold­man, A. S. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017,
139, 6338–6350.
2. Wilk­low-Mar­nell, M.; Li, B.; Zhou, T.; Krogh-Jes­persen, K.; Bren­nes­sel, W. W.; Emge, T. J.; Gold­man, A. S.; Jones, W. D. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017,
139, 8977–8989.
3. Gold­berg, K. I.; Gold­man, A. S. Acc. Chem. Res. 2017, 50, 620–626.
4. Kumar, A.; Bhat­ti, T. M.; Gold­man, A. S. Chem. Rev. 2017, 117, 12357–12384.
5. Gao, Y.; Emge, T. J.; Krogh-Jes­persen, K.; Gold­man, A. S. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 2260–2264.

Welcome Announcement for the 2018–2019 Season

Dear Col­leagues,
It is my dis­tinct plea­sure to wel­come all of you to the 2018–19 sea­son of the Catal­y­sis Club of Philadel­phia on behalf of the Club’s Offi­cers. The Club’s pro­gram will kick off this year with a pre­sen­ta­tion by Prof. Alan Gold­man on Sep­tem­ber 27th, 2018. Due to the avail­abil­i­ty of our Catal­y­sis Club of Philadel­phia Award Recip­i­ent, Dr. Car­mo Pereira, the CCP Award lec­ture will be giv­en on Jan­u­ary 17th, 2019. The speak­er sched­ule for the 2018–19 sea­son (put togeth­er under the coor­di­na­tion of Srini­vas Ran­gara­jan from Lehigh Uni­ver­si­ty), along with the spe­cial events, is list­ed below. We hope that you’ll join us and that you’ll enjoy the planned talks!

Date Speak­er Spe­cial Event
Sept. 27, 2018 Prof. Alan S. Gold­man (Rut­gers Un.) Sea­son Kick-off
Oct. 11, 2018 Dr. Teh C. Ho (Exxon­Mo­bil) Cia­pet­ta Award Win­ner
Nov. 15, 2018 Prof. Eric A. Stach (Un. of Penn­syl­va­nia) Stu­dent Poster Com­pe­ti­tion
Jan. 17, 2019 Dr. Car­mo J. Pereira (DuPont) CCP Award Lec­ture
Feb. 21, 2019 Prof. Dr. Johannes A. Lercher (TU München, PNNL) Offi­cer Nom­i­na­tions
March 21, 2019 Prof. Eric D. Wachs­man (Un. of Mary­land) Offi­cer Nom­i­na­tions
April 18, 2019 Prof. William F. Schnei­der (Un. of Notre Dame) Offi­cer Elec­tions
May 2019 CCP Spring Sym­po­sium

The month­ly meet­ing loca­tion will remain the same and will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clay­mont, DE (630 Naa­mans Road, Clay­mont, DE 19703). In order to off­set ris­ing cater­ing costs, meet­ing fees have increased to $40.00 for mem­bers, $25.00 for students/retirees, and will include one drink dur­ing the social hour. The fees for walk-ins and non-mem­bers will be $45.00. We strong­ly encour­age you to reg­is­ter for the meet­ing using the online reg­is­tra­tion form, a link to which is pro­vid­ed in each meet­ing announce­ment email.
Reser­va­tions can also be made by con­tact­ing our Trea­sur­er (Lifeng.​Wang@​pqcorp.​com) or Chair (Eric.​R.​Sacia@​dupont.​com) direct­ly. Dues for the 2018–19 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).
Our annu­al stu­dent poster com­pe­ti­tion (orga­nized by Nick McNa­ma­ra of John­son Matthey) will be held on Novem­ber 15th, 2018. It pro­vides an impor­tant forum for local stu­dents to dis­sem­i­nate their work and inter­act with fel­low sci­en­tists from indus­try and acad­e­mia. Fur­ther­more, select­ed stu­dents from local uni­ver­si­ties will also be giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­vide a brief pre­sen­ta­tion of their work at cer­tain meet­ings.
Feel free to con­tact either myself or the oth­er offi­cers with any com­ments or ques­tions, and keep check­ing our web­site peri­od­i­cal­ly (www​.catal​y​sis​clubphilly​.org) for news or updates. Look­ing for­ward to see­ing all of you this sea­son!

All the best,
Eric Sacia
Catal­y­sis Club of Philadel­phia Chair