Catalysis is a technology which increases the rate of a chemical reaction.Catalysts are materials which change the rate of attainment of chemical equilibrium without themselves being changed or consumed in the process. Catalysts also provide selectivity or specificity to particular products which are more desirable than others. All these attributes about catalysis and catalysts translate to energy savings, less pollution, fewer side products, lower cost reactor materials, and ultimately products which reduce global warming
Our main research interests lie in the area of heterogeneous catalysis and reaction engineering, especially for the sustainable energy (chemicals/fuel) production and the environment protection. Catalytic reaction plays a major role in most environmentally friendly, energy- and material-efficient chemical processes. To meet the challenges of continuously changing nature of feedstocks and demand, new processes must be developed, and existing processes must be improved toward the direction of the cleaner environment and the higher energy efficiency. The desired innovation can be assisted significantly by an adequate understanding of catalytic reactions and an ability to design catalytic centers. Therefore, our research goal is to search for and develop the underlying chemical and engineering rules governing catalysis, especially regarding the relationship between the active sites and product activity/selectivity. Afterward, the obtained fundamental knowledge about catalyst can be utilized to design novel and efficient catalytic processes for the practical application as follows.
1) Catalysis for Energy (fuel and chemicals) Production
The challenge to develop the catalyst for sustainable chemicals/fuel is motivated by the progressive shift from the depleting petroleum to alternative feedstocks such as biomass, natural gas and coal. Currently, synthesis gas (CO/H2), methanol, ethanol, carbohydrates, CH4 and CO2 are widely researched as a major candidate intermediate or starting feedstocks to the fuels and the chemicals. In order to develop the energy-efficient chemical process based on these intermediates, the optimum catalyst with high activity and selectivity should be found. Hence, the extensive study about the relationship between the active sites and product selectivity/activity must be performed initially. Then, a novel catalyst must be designed to improve the overall yield of the desirable product. The interesting reactions are the utilization of methane, syngas (CO/H2) and CO2 as feedstocks, in addition to the production of the value-added products starting from the important intermediate feedstocks or byproducts.
2) Catalysis for Environmental Protection
The catalytic removal of harmful gases from the vehicle is an urgent task to solve the environmental and energy problems we are facing. For example, U.S. government mandates an increase major improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon by 2016, which needs the use of high efficiency engine concepts such as diesel and lean burn engine technologies. Especially, these technologies rely on a new generation of NOx reduction (DeNOx) and hydrocarbon oxidation catalysts in order to comply with stringent emission standards that are set to meet air quality goals. Therefore, the fundamental and applied researches are necessary to discover and develop new and improved catalyst materials for the future vehicle. The interesting catalytic systems are DOC (diesel oxidation catalyst), SCR (selective catalytic reduction) and NSR (NOx storage-reduction) catalysts to remove CO, hydrocarbon, soot and NOx emitted from internal combustion engines.
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