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Workshop / Seminar

CHE 598 Seminar Series

Spark Room 335   Tri-Cities Location: Floyd 224
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Austin Winkelman Headshot

About the event

In 2016 Austin Winkelman earned his Bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and in Applied Physics from Whitworth University.

During his undergraduate studies, he spent four summers as an intern at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) where he worked on several engineering projects. This experience involved working on the design and construction of a Metal Organic Framework (MOF) adsorption chiller, looking at improving the efficiency of residential appliances and HVAC systems using modeling and experimental validation, and characterizing novel catalysts for their use in catalytic converters downstream of lean-burn diesel engine exhaust. Austin started his Ph.D. work in 2016 under Dr. Yong Wang, and is currently located at PNNL as a WSU-PNNL Distinguished Graduate Research Program Fellow supporting catalytic research efforts in the Advanced Energy Systems group under his mentor Dr. Vanessa Dagle. His work involves the synthesis, characterization, and development of metal oxide catalysts for the upgrading of bioethanol to C4 precursors to be used in the production of fuels or industrially relevant product. He has presented work at the   Pacific Coast Catalysis Society regional meeting, a PNNL graduate research symposium, an American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting, and at the North American Catalysis Society National Meeting (NAM) as a Kokes awardee.

Single-Step Conversion of Ethanol to Butadiene and Butenes Over Ag/ZrO2/SBA-16 Catalysts 

Ethanol is an attractive biomass-derived feedstock for the production of fuels and industrially significant product as it is presently produced at commercial scale from renewable biomass and waste sources. A flexible catalytic process was developed for the single-step conversion of ethanol to either butadiene or n-butene-rich olefins over Ag/ZrO2/SiO2 catalysts. Butadiene is a highly desired compound used in the production of tires and other essential synthetic polymers and elastomers. N-butene-rich olefins are valuable as fuel precursors. Although the single-step ethanol to butadiene reaction has traditionally exhibited lower yields where higher     selectivities to butadiene (i.e. 70%) were only achievable at lower conversions (i.e. 40%) we recently reported a study on the Ag/ZrO2/SiO2 system finding an optimal composition using SBA-16 support resulting in an outstanding performance of 99% conversion of ethanol at 71% selectivity to butadiene under mild process conditions (325°C, 1 atm, 0.23 h-1 WHSVEtOH under N2). Over the same catalyst, operating under a reducing environment (H2 at 100psi) leads mainly to the formation of olefins rich in n-butene with yields reaching ~85%. This seminar will focus on the identification of structure-activity relationships needed for future catalyst design as well as elucidation of the reaction mechanism taking place during butenes formation. Characterization   topics include the use of computational atomistic modeling for Density Functional Theory (DFT) investigations in addition to operando spectroscopic techniques to gain insight into the nature of active sites and their reactivity. Lifetime studies and industrial applicability will also be discussed. Overall, the Ag/ZrO2/SiO2 catalyst shows promise to be part of a marketable process for both butadiene and butenes-rich olefin production due to high selectivity to desired products, high stability under a reducing environment, relatively low deactivation under an inert atmosphere compared to the state-of-the-art, and catalyst regenerability.