Catalytic Alkane Activation: Theory and Experiments

Event Date: November 4, 2014
Speaker: Prof. Horia Metiu
Speaker Affiliation: University of California, Santa Barbara
Time: 9:00 - 10:15 am
Location: FRNY G140

Abstract:  I will present our work on two topics: 1. The use of density functional computations to explore whether we can improve catalytic activity of oxides, for alkane activation, by various chemical modifications. 2. Experiments that study halogen mediated oxidative dehydrogenation of propane to produce propylene.  Within the first topic we use as a guide the observation that when co-adsorbed a Lewis base and a Lewis acid interact strongly through the oxide. This allows us to predict qualitative trends regarding the ability of various kinds of doped oxide surfaces to break the carbon-hydrogen bond in alkanes.  In the second topic I present experiments that show that iodine or bromine mediated oxidative dehydrogenation is very effective in converting propane to propylene.  We show that this takes place when the gaseous halogen is introduced in a mixture of propane and oxygen or when it is produced by the action of oxygen on molten LiI or LiBr.


Bio:  M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute Bucharest and PhD in theoretical chemical physics from MIT with John Ross and Robert Silbey. He was a postdoc at the University of Chicago with Karl Freed. He has been professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara since 1976. Worked in many areas of theoretical chemical physics: surface enhanced spectroscopy, time-domain theory of spectroscopy, theory of rate constants, femtochemistry, crystal growth and epitaxy, thermoelectrics, catalysis and surface science.  From time to time he did experimental work in collaboration with colleagues. He developed metastable quenching spectroscopy of adsorbates (with Yates and Martin), worked on fuel cell membranes (with Buratto), thermoelectric materials (with Stucky), the surface science of mass selected supported oxide or metal clusters (with Bowers and Buratto) and catalysis (with McFarland and Gordon).  Currently his focus is on computations and experiments on catalysis and he is writing (slowly) a book on quantum mechanics.