Juan Vega-Vila

Graduate Research Assistant

Advised by Professor Rajamani Gounder

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University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez Campus, B.S. Chemical Engineering (2014)
Purdue University, Ph.D. Chemical Engineering (2014 – present)


Project Description

As an emerging technology for the production of fuels and useful chemicals, biomass feedstocks have grown as potential carbon sources. Moreover, most of the processes involving biomass conversion are carried out in liquid solvents, with many consequences for catalysis that remain largely unknown. It has been previously shown that using water as the solvent can cause the reactivity of some catalysts (e.g. zeolites) to decrease significantly. For that reason, the first milestone of this project is to develop methods for post-synthetic modification of Lewis acid zeolites to incorporate hydrophobic and hydrophilic external and internal domains. Furthermore, with these materials, another goal is to determine its effect on apparent kinetics for biomass-relevant reactions such as glucose isomerization.