Special Chemical Engineering Seminar
In an increasingly carbon-constrained world, lignocellulosic biomass, natural gas, water, and carbon dioxide have emerged as attractive options to supply energy, fuels, and chemicals at scale in a cleaner and more sustainable manner. However, the unique chemical makeup of these alternative energy sources has created daunting conversion challenges, requiring the development a new generation of catalysts to promote selective bond-breaking events.
In this lecture, I will show how advanced synthesis techniques can be coupled with rigorous reactivity and characterization studies to unearth unique synergies in nanostructured catalysts. More specifically, I will discuss the use of molecular engineering tools to design nanostructured earth-abundant heterometallic early transition metal carbide (TMC) nanoparticles as a novel platform to replace (or at least drastically reduce) noble metal utilization in electro- and thermo-catalytic applications. I will present a new method to synthesize TMCs covered in atomically-thin layers of noble metals with exquisite control over composition, size, crystal phase, and purity. Controlling these features has direct consequences on the electronic (and thus catalytic) properties of the noble metal overlayer. The advantages of this new class of materials will be demonstrated in the context of CO-tolerant electro-oxidation reactions and selective partial hydrogenation of hydrocarbons.