Chemical Engineering Department
686 N PLEASANT ST
Amherst, MA 01003-9303
The research of our group focuses on the rational synthesis of nanoporous materials for the catalysts of biorefinery and drug delivery carriers with engineering their pore structure and size, surface properties and active sites based on the comprehensive understanding of their crystallization mechanism.
- Hierarchical microporous crystals (zeolite): a rational and designable heterogeneous catalyst for bio-oil upgrading. Pyrolysis is an appropriate process for the conversion of large amounts of wood-based biomass into bio-oil, from which biofuels and chemicals can be produced. In order to upgrade bio-oil to biofuels, the quality of bio-oil must be improved because of the presence of high water and oxygen contents in the bio-oil produced from wood-based biomass. However, the current catalysts suffer from their small accessible ore size, low hydrothermal stability and less controllable active sites. The research project will focus on synthesizing a new class of catalysts for the catalytic conversion of bio-oil, which can be termed "hierarchical heterogeneous catalysts with tunable mesopore and micropore structure doped with noble and transition metals".
- Synthesis of three dimensionally ordered mesoporous (3DOm) carbon.
About 65% of wood-based biomass is cellulose and hemicellulose. Cellulose hydrolysis into glucose is a key process for the beneficial use of cellulose. However, the current processes have significant drawbacks, such as separation of products and catalysts, corrosion hazard, severe controls of enzymes, low selectivity and waste fluids. These drawbacks are the primary hurdle limiting the efficiency of cellulose conversion. In this project, we focus on the rational design of pore size, structure and surface functionality of 3DOm carbon by replica from colloidal crystals formed from silica nanoparticles. The goal of this work is to realize optimum cellulose conversion and selectivity via a more sustainable approach.
- Inorganic nanoporous materials: a controlled and targeted release carrier for drug-delivery system (DDSs).
The development of DDSs has experienced a remarkable growth and is now an important market for the industrial sector. Several matrices have been tested so far, such as organic polymers, organic–inorganic hybrid materials, bioactive glasses and ceramics. In this project, we focus on developing an experimental approach to fundamentally study the interaction of drug molecules and biological agents with microporous matrices, and realize a controllable release of drug molecules to target sites with a “gate keeping” concept achieved by a novel surface modification strategy on zeolite nanocrystals.