Rajamani Gounder

Larry and Virginia Faith Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering

FRNY 2160
Purdue University
Davidson 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 in 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

  • Jason Bates
  • Michael Cordon
  • John Di Iorio
  • James Harris (co-advised with Fabio Ribeiro)
  • Casey Jones (co-advised with Fabio Ribeiro)
  • Ravi Joshi
  • Philip Kester
  • Trevor Lardinois (co-advised with Fabio Ribeiro)
  • Claire Nimlos
  • Juan Carlos Vega-Vila
  • Laura Wilcox

Undergraduate Researchers

  • YoonRae Cho
  • Janmejay Goenka
  • Jacklyn Hall
  • Alisa Henry
  • Zige Huang
  • Christopher Ioerger
  • Alyssa LaRue
  • Rebecca Reitzel

Awards and Honors

Director, CRE Division (AIChE), 2016-2019
Advisory Board, Reaction Chemistry & Engineering, 2016
NSF CAREER Award, 2016
Young Scientist Prize, International Congress on Catalysis, 2016
Outstanding Mentor of Engineering Graduate Students Award, 2016
R. Norris Shreve Award for Outstanding Teaching in Chemical Engineering, 2016
Ralph W. and Grace M. Showalter Research Trust Award, 2015
3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, 2015
Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, ORAU, 2014
ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator Award, 2014

Selected Publications

"Controlling the Isolation and Pairing of Aluminum in Chabazite Zeolites Using Mixtures of Organic and Inorganic Structure-Directing Agents" J. R. Di Iorio, R. Gounder, Chemistry of Materials, 28, 2236-2247, (2016).

"Controlled Insertion of Tin Atoms into Zeolite Framework Vacancies and Consequences for Glucose Isomerization Catalysis" J. C. Vega-Vila, J. W. Harris, R. Gounder, Journal of Catalysis, 344, 108-120, (2016).

"Titration and Quantification of Open and Closed Lewis Acid Sites in Sn-Beta Zeolites that Catalyze Glucose Isomerization", J. W. Harris, M. J. Cordon, J. R. Di Iorio, J. C. Vega-Vila, F. H. Ribeiro, R. Gounder, Journal of Catalysis, 335, 141-154, (2016).

"Catalysis Science of NOx Selective Catalytic Reduction with Ammonia over Cu-SSZ-13 and Cu-SAPO-34", C. Paolucci, J. R. Di Iorio, F. H. Ribeiro, R. Gounder, W. F. Schneider, Advances in Catalysis, 59, DOI: 10.1016/bs.acat.2016.10.002, (2016).

"Catalysis in a Cage: Condition-Dependent Speciation and Dynamics of Exchanged Cu Cations in SSZ-13 Zeolites", C. Paolucci, A. A. Parekh, I. Khurana, J. R. Di Iorio, J. Li, J. D. Albarracin Caballero, A. Shih, T. Angarra, W. N. Delgass, J. T. Miller, F. H. Ribeiro, R. Gounder, W. F. Schneider, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138, 6028-6048, (2016).