Conferences: Professors of the Department of Chemistry, MIT

Next Friday, 25th May at 12h at the Salón de Actos of the ITQ, it will be two conferences related to:

New directions in the use of microporous solid acids in the conversion of biomass
By Prof. Yuri Román – Department of Chemistry, MIT

Crystalline Microporous Metal-Organic Frameworks: Opportunities in Energy Research
By Prof. Mircea Dincă – Department of Chemistry, MIT

Prof. Román was born in Mexico City, Mexico. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002 and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also in Chemical Engineering, under the guidance of Prof. James Dumesic. At UW he worked on developing catalytic strategies to convert biomass-derived carbohydrates into platform chemicals. Before joining the department of Chemical Engineering at MIT as an Assistant Professor, he completed a two-year postdoc at Caltech, working with Prof. Mark E. Davis on the synthesis of zeolites and mesoporous materials for the activation of small molecules and biomass-derived oxygenates.
Prof. Román’s research lies at the interface of heterogeneous catalysis and materials design. His group applies a wide range of synthetic, spectroscopic, and reaction engineering tools to study the chemical transformation of molecules on catalytic surfaces. A strong emphasis is placed on the application of catalytic materials to tackle relevant problems associated with sustainable energy, biofuels, and renewable chemicals. Current efforts are geared toward designing water-tolerant solid Lewis acids, investigating cooperative effects of catalytic pairs, and engineering two-dimensional microporous solids.

New directions in the use of microporous solid acids in the conversion of biomass
In our efforts to shift away from traditional petroleum-based raw materials to supply fuels and chemicals, biomass has emerged as an attractive renewable carbon-containing feedstock. Its complex chemical diversity has created daunting challenges that require the synthesis and implementation of robust, active, and selective catalysts that operate in the presence of bulk water. This lecture will cover recent developments in the synthesis, characterization and use of zeolites containing Lewis acid centers for the conversion of biomass-derived oxygenates in aqueous media. Zeolites containing framework metals capable accepting pairs of electrons by expanding their coordination shell behave as Lewis acids. These materials are unique because, unlike traditional Lewis acids, they maintain activity in the presence of water by allowing carbonyl-containing molecules to coordinate to the active site. We will present our recent findings on the use of Sn-Beta zeolites to convert carbohydrates (e.g., glucose and xylose) in the presence of bulk water, focusing on three important areas: a) the nature of the interaction between carbohydrates and the active site; b) the impact of inorganic promoters on the mechanism of glucose conversion; and c) new synthesis protocols to reduce mass transfer limitations.

Microporous Metal-Organic Frameworks: Opportunities in Energy Research

Mircea Dincă was born in small Transylvanian town in Romania in 1980. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from Princeton University in 2003, and did his graduate work at UC Berkeley, where he obtained a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry in 2008. At Berkeley, he worked on the synthesis and characterization of microporous metal-organic frameworks for hydrogen storage and catalysis under the supervision of Prof. Jeffrey R. Long. After a two-year stint as a postdoctoral associate working on heterogeneous electrocatalytic water splitting with Prof. Daniel G. Nocera at MIT, he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at MIT in July 2010. He was awarded the US Department of Energy Young Investigator Award in 2011.

Research Interests: Research in the Dincă lab is concerned with the synthesis of new microporous materials and their physico-chemical properties, with a current emphasis on metal-organic frameworks. The group is particularly interested in exploring the reactivity of unique metal nodes within MOFs towards small gaseous oxidants, the effect of rigidity on the conformation and photophysics of organic chromophores trapped in solid lattices, and the electronic and ionic conducting properties of microporous materials.

Free entrance.