Eastman Lecturers

The Tenth Annual Eastman Foundation Distinguished Lecturers In Catalysis

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Event Date

March 23, 2021
9:00 am to 11:30 am Pacific Standard Time

Free registration required.

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2021 Distinguished Lecturers

Regina Palkovits

Professor, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen/Germany

“Heterogeneous Catalysis and Process Design for Closed CO2 Cycles”

Renewable carbon feedstocks such as biomass and CO2 present an important element of future circular economy. Especially biomass as highly functionalized feedstock provides manifold opportunities for the transformation into attractive platform chemicals. However, these resources require novel paradigms in process design. Fossil feedstocks are processed in stationary gas-phase processes at elevated temperature. On the contrary, biorefineries are based on processes in polar solvents at moderate conditions to selectively deoxygenate the polar, often thermally instable and high-boiling molecules. Considering “green electrons” provided by renewable energy technologies, also dynamic (electro)catalytic processes become attractive as key technology of a throughout circular economy. Herein, novel concepts in catalyst design will be discussed focusing on solid molecular catalysts for CO2 activation, novel biomass transformations and the contribution of catalysts in life cycle assessment as well as the future role of a potentially electrified biorefinery.

Paul J. Dauenhauer

Professor, University of Minnesota

“The Catalytic Mechanics of Dynamic Surfaces for Energy Technology”

The emergence of competitive renewable energy from sunlight and wind heightens the importance of moving and storing energy from the rural places of origin to the locations where people live and work.  Chemically capturing energy as compressed hydrogen or energy-dense liquids including ammonia or CO2-derived methanol remains a leading method of energy storage based on density and fungibility, but the catalytic technology necessary for transforming electricity into chemicals in small distributed energy systems remains the key challenge.  In this work, the general approach of dynamic catalyst operation is described as oscillatory binding energy of molecules adsorbed on surfaces as a method to dramatically accelerate the rate of catalytic reaction.  Surface oscillations in sinusoidal and square waveforms of transient binding energy are imposed on catalyst surfaces with varying amplitude and frequency to identify the resonance conditions leading to order-of-magnitude enhancement in overall reaction rate.  The results are presented in the context of catalyst-reaction behavior with regard to implementation in industrial reactor technologies necessary for moving and storing renewable energy.

David Flaherty

Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Why Does the Catalyst Need to Be Wet?

Solvent molecules surround and interact with catalytic active sites in ways that change reaction rates and selectivities by orders of magnitude. This seminar describes complex and previously unrecognized phenomena at solid-liquid interfaces during the direct synthesis of H­2O2 (H2 + O2 → H2O2), an environmentally benign oxidant. H2O2 forms on Pd-based nanoparticles with structures that evolve in response to the reactant and solvent compositions. Alcoholic solvent molecules activate to form surface redox mediators that co-catalyze proton-electron transfer steps and influence the active phase of the catalyst nanoparticle. Water, in contrast, co-catalyzes and couples the hydrogen oxidation and oxygen reduction reactions on individual nanoparticles, analogous to electrochemical fuel cells. Comparisons of independent electrochemical and thermochemical measurements across alloy catalysts demonstrate fundamental connections between electro- and thermocatalytic processes for this chemistry. These concepts explain the dependence of rates and selectivities not only on operating conditions (temperature, reactant pressure, potential) but also on catalyst structure (e.g., Pd-Pd coordination). While we demonstrate these principles for an ostensibly simple reaction, such ideas may appear also for liquid-phase catalysis of other feedstocks.