Victoria Venardi Rose Hills
Stabilization of Crystalline Catalysts for Olefin Epoxidation via Hydrophobic Surface Groups
This summer, I will be working on developing highly efficient and stable catalysts for the production of propylene oxide (PO), a chemical used in construction, upholstery, and automobiles. The instability of the current industrial amorphous catalyst causes numerous shutdowns per year during production and creates unnecessary waste, including 750 thousand tons of carbon dioxide, and costs $930 million dollars to manufacturers per year. In my research, I will modify current crystalline catalysts to become more stable by avoiding polymerization side reactions that are initiated by small amounts of water on the catalyst surface and that are known to cause catalyst deactivation. My hypothesis is that this can be avoided by making the surface of the material hydrophobic, or water repellent. During this project, I will synthesize several crystalline catalyst candidates, modify them with different surface capping methods, and test them for long-term stability. My work will contribute to the reduction of chemical waste and carbon dioxide emissions that occur in the current PO manufacturing process.