University of Connecticut

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CBE Seminar - Biomass and Light-Alkane Valorization via Zeol

Thursday, September 21, 2017
9:30am – 10:30am

Storrs Campus
IMS 20

Dr. Raul F. Lobo, Claire D. LeClaire Professor Director, Center for Catalytic Science & Technology Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering University of Delaware

My research group is interested in developing and understanding catalysis systems to enable the transformation abundant, inexpensive and—when possible—renewable carbon sources into feedstocks for the chemical industry. We combine expertise in materials synthesis, catalysis and kinetics, and reaction engineering to develop novel catalysts and catalytic processes that produce valuable products.

The first part of the talk will focus on C-C bond forming reactions that are helpful in the transformation of furans (produced from biomass) into valuable commodity chemicals. We have developed and optimized microporous catalyst compositions to form aromatic species out of the furans via Diels-Alder reactions, Friedel-Craft acylations and the Prins condensation of alkenes with formaldehyde. These investigations highlight the benefits and differences of porous solid Bronsted acid catalysts to solid Lewis acid catalyst containing metals such as tin and zirconium on the surface. We will describe work towards producing benzoic acid and -methylstyrene from furans in high selectivity and high yield, along with the elucidation of the reaction mechanisms of these reactions.

In the second part I will discuss on-going research directed towards the activation of ethane to form mixtures of ethylene, benzene and toluene. A number of potential active sites are investigated and their function and synergy to form the desired products will be discussed. We will also show that Zn-containing zeolites are effective for the activation of ethane to ethylene, and that depending on reaction conditions and composition, the ethylene can be further reactor to form mixtures of benzene and toluene.

Despite the maturity of the field of catalysis this talk will show that tantalizing new opportunities emerge from the discovery of new catalyst structures and compositions, and from improvements in our control of the composition of metal clusters in nanoscopic environments.

BIO Raul F. Lobo is the Claire D. LeClaire professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware and Director of the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology. His research interests span the development of novel porous materials for catalysis and separations, the chemistry of zeolites, catalysis for energy and the environment, and the scientific aspects of catalyst synthesis. He has published over one hundred fifty refereed reports and he is co-inventor in four US patents. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Costa Rica in 1989 and later moved to California to pursue graduate studies in Chemical Engineering at Caltech. He worked for one year at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico as a postdoctoral fellow and started his academic career at the University of


Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (primary), Chemistry Department, Institute of Material Science, Materials Science & Engineering Department, UConn Master Calendar

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