Two ChemE profs receive Discovery Accelerator Supplements

Profs. Cathy Chin and Arun Ramchandran recently received three-year Discovery Accelerator Supplements (DAS) on top of their five-year Discovery Grants. The DAS Program provides substantial and timely resources to researchers who have a superior research program that is highly rated in terms of originality and innovation, and who show strong potential to become international leaders within their field. Only 125 DAS are awarded by NSERC each year.

Atomic efficient catalytic technology for sustainable chemical and fuel syntheses enabled by active site coupling and kinetic property tuning: “In this program, we seek to establish the much-needed catalytic insights for atomic efficient fuel and chemical syntheses from alternative feedstocks, e.g., shale gas, unconventional fuels, and biomass, available vastly in Canada. Our pursuit builds upon fundamental understanding of catalytic science, through which we probe and understand the reactivity trends and fundamental principles that govern the selective activation of chemical bonds. Through nano-engineering and material architectures, we design catalyst materials with complex, multiple types of active sites, each of which targets a specific chemical bond. Such strategic material syntheses will realize new catalytic chemistry, previously unattainable with conventional materials, at unprecedented atomic efficiency because these sites work cooperatively and promote kinetically coupled, cascade reactions. We focus on understanding the dynamics of catalyst structures under industrially relevant reaction conditions because their structural dynamics directly dictate the eventual reactivities and yields. Specific catalytic processes are: upgrading of biomass oxygenates to value-added chemicals and fuels, exhaust emission control, shale gas valorization, and hydrotreating of heavy oil. We will apply the fundamental knowledge described to design, optimize, and demonstrate new catalytic technologies through collaboration with our industrial partners to enable environmentally benign thermochemical conversion routes.” Prof. Cathy Chin

Tailoring emulsions of complex fluids for precise wetting and coalescence rates: “An emulsion is a mixture of two immiscible liquids in the form of drops of one liquid suspended in the other. Emulsion-based products form a billion-dollar industry, and are ubiquitous in everyday life (mayo, milk, skin creams, soft drinks, etc.) and in industry (oil-in-water or water-in-oil mixtures). Unfortunately, emulsions are still being formulated largely by combinatorial methods due to a lack of the fundamental relationships that connect their composition, processing and structure to their properties. The Discovery Grant and DAS will fund our research, which will lead to the instruments, methodologies and knowledge base that are required to design emulsions tailored for specific functions. In particular, two important emulsion related phenomena will be studied in detail: wetting, which is the spreading of an emulsion drop on a surface, and coalescence, which is the union of two drops into one larger drop.” Prof. Arun Ramchandran