Rajamani Gounder

Assistant Professor

FRNY 2160
Purdue University
School of Chemical Engineering
Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering
480 Stadium Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2100
(765) 496-7826 (office)
(765) 494-0805 (fax)
Joined Purdue July 2013
B. S., University of Wisconsin, 2006
Ph. D., University of California, Berkeley, 2011
Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, 2011 - 2013

Research Interests

Gounder Research Group Website

Heterogeneous catalysis is an integral component of many technologies that drive our chemical and energy industries. We are an experimental research group that studies the fundamentals and applications of heterogeneous catalysis and the targeted synthesis of inorganic solids and molecular sieves. We combine approaches in materials synthesis, characterization, and kinetic and mechanistic studies to probe the site requirements, reactive intermediates and elementary steps that constitute reaction mechanisms. We aim to develop structure-function relations that predict how reactant and catalyst structures influence reactivity and selectivity, in order to inform catalyst design and selection for new and existing catalytic processes.

Our current research interests fall within the following areas:
(i) catalytic routes and materials that enable the conversion of petroleum- and natural gas-derived hydrocarbons to transportation fuels and chemicals
(ii) catalyst design for selective reactions of multifunctional and polyfunctional molecules, such as those derived from renewable biomass, in liquid and gaseous phases
(iii) selective catalytic reduction of NOx (x = 1, 2) compounds with ammonia for pollution abatement in lean-burn engine emissions

We also focus on investigating microporous and mesoporous materials, zeolites, and molecular sieves, which are prevalent in the petrochemical refining and chemical industries. These crystalline oxides contain catalytically active sites confined within ordered void spaces (channels, cages, pockets) of molecular dimension (typically <2 nm). The properties of both the active sites and the confining environments can strongly influence catalytic rates and selectivities. In certain contexts, synthetic molecular sieves show catalytic reactivity and specificity reminiscent of that displayed by biological enzymes. One long-term goal of our research program is to understand fundamentally why and when synthetic materials exhibit such remarkable catalytic behavior.

We are a part of the Purdue Catalysis Center, which fosters interaction among faculty and students in catalysis research groups by collaborating on research projects, sharing resources and facilities, and holding weekly joint group meetings.

Research Group

Graduate Students

  • Michael Cordon
  • John Di Iorio
  • Ravi Joshi

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Haefa Mansour
  • Austin Tackaberry

Awards and Honors

Dow Excellence in Teaching Award, UC-Berkeley, 2010
Heinz Heinemann Award for Graduate Research in Catalysis, UC-Berkeley, 2010

Selected Publications

"Methods for NH3 Titration of Bronsted Acid Sites in Cu-Zeolites that Catalyze the Selective Catalytic Reduction of NOx with NH3", S. A. Bates, W. N. Delgass, F. H. Ribeiro, J. T. Miller, R. Gounder, Journal of Catalysis, 312, 26-36 (2014)

"The Catalytic Diversity of Zeolites: Confinement and Solvation Effects within Voids of Molecular Dimensions", R. Gounder, E. Iglesia, Chemical Communications, 49, 3491-3509, (2013). (Feature Article)

"Monosaccharide and Disaccharide Isomerization over Lewis Acid Sites in Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Molecular Sieves,", R. Gounder, M. E. Davis, Journal of Catalysis, 308, 176-188, (2013).

"Titanium-Beta Zeolites Catalyze the Stereospecific Isomerization of D-Glucose to L-Sorbose via Intramolecular C5-C1 Hydride Shift", R. Gounder, M. E. Davis, ACS Catalysis, 3, 1469-1476, (2013).

"The Roles of Entropy and Enthalpy in Stabilizing Ion-Pairs at Transition States in Zeolite Acid Catalysis.," R. Gounder, E. Iglesia, Accounts of Chemical Research, 45, 229-238, (2012).