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Title: Catalysis Science Initiative: Catalyst Design by Discovery Informatics

Catalysts selectively enhance the rates of chemical reactions toward desired products. Such reactions provide great benefit to society in major commercial sectors such as energy production, protecting the environment, and polymer products and thereby contribute heavily to the country’s gross national product. Our premise is that the level of fundamental understanding of catalytic events at the atomic and molecular scale has reached the point that more predictive methods can be developed to shorten the cycle time to new processes. The field of catalysis can be divided into two regimes: heterogeneous and homogeneous. For the heterogeneous catalysis regime, we have used the water-gas shift (WGS) reaction (CO + H2O + CO2 + H2O) over supported metals as a test bed. Detailed analysis and strong coupling of theory with experiment have led to the following conclusions: • The sequence of elementary steps goes through a COOH intermediate • The CO binding energy is a strong function of coverage of CO adsorbed on the surface in many systems • In the case of Au catalysts, the CO adsorption is generally too weak on surface with close atomic packing, but the enhanced binding at corner atoms (which are missing bonding partners) of cubo-octahedral nanoparticlesmore » increases the energy to a near optimal value and produces very active catalysts. • Reaction on the metal alone cannot account for the experimental results. The reaction is dual functional with water activation occurring at the metal-support interface. It is clear from our work that the theory component is essential, not only for prediction of new systems, but also for reconciling data and testing hypotheses regarding potential descriptors. Particularly important is the finding that the interface between nano-sized metal particles and the oxides that are used to support them represent a new state of matter in the sense that the interfacial bonding perturbs the chemical state of both metals atoms and the support atoms in the interfacial region. Some of the first theoretical descriptions of this important chemistry and potential new source of control of catalyst properties are be in preparation for submission. On the homogeneous catalysis side, we have used single site olefin polymerization as the testbed. This system is important because changes in a single ligand bonded to the catalytically active metal site can alter the rates of individual steps in the polymerization sequence and thereby change the properties of the resulting polymer, potentially improving its value in a hundred million pound per year industry. We have made a major advance in understanding such systems by developing a population balance kinetic model that allows us to predict the molecular weight distribution (MWD) of the product. That, in turn, allows use of MWD data to fit kinetic parameters. By combining monomer loss data, MWD, measurement of the number of working active sites, and polymer end group analysis, we have a rich data set that is highly discriminating of kinetic mechanism. Thus, we have a robust tool for producing high quality, detailed kinetic parameters, which we have used to refine mechanisms presented in the literature and discover relationships between steric and electronic properties of group IV catalysts and individual rate constants in a number of systems. Our recent work on six-coordinate Zr, Ti, and Hf amine bis(phenolate) systems, we have shown that: • The sterics (bulkiness) of the ligands specifically affect the chain termination reaction • The electron density on the metal controls misinsertion (flipped orientation) of the olefin into the growing polymer • Steric effects related to the size of the ortho ligand on the catalyst have been shown to strongly affect its the degree of dormancy, i.e. tendency to stop reacting • Changes in the size of the amine pendent group on the catalyst can have such a strong effect on chain termination as to change the catalyst from one that produces only oligomers to one that incorporates oligomers in polymer chains to introduce chain branching. These effects control the length of molecular chains, the number of errors in the regularity of the chains, and the variation of chain lengths in the final product distribution. These characteristics, in turn, determine the properties of the resulting polymer material. Predictive modeling of polymerization process cannot be done without the quantitative rate constant determination that our unique and comprehensive approach has produced. This tool, combined with insights on how catalyst chemistry affects the rate constants, is an important step toward establishing the quantitative relationships between catalyst chemistry and polymer properties that will allow more efficient searches for new catalysts and speed the discovery process. Thus, in both the heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis areas, this work has brought important new understanding to the field. The technical effectiveness of our approach is demonstrated by its success. For heterogeneous catalysis, experimental work alone showed the important of the metal-support interface, but the integration with theory has allowed deeper understanding of the fundamental source of the effects and shown the path for how to use this understanding for discovery. In the case of homogeneous catalysis, methodology for determination of which reactions are needed to account for the data and the extraction of quantitative values for rate constants for those reactions allows accurate modeling of reaction behavior. This allowed correlation of trends in catalyst properties with alterations of specific rates, thus contributing to a data base that will guide catalyst discovery. While not yet realized, the economic benefits of this approach will come in significantly shortened cycle times for discovery and ability to fill product demand at lower price.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3]
  1. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States). Chemical Engineering
  2. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States) Department of Chemistry
  3. Univ. of Notre Dame, IN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final Report Purdue 15466
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
96 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AND PRESERVATION Catalysis; catalyst design; water-gas shift reaction; metal-oxide interfaces; olefin polymerization; kinetic analysis of polymerization reactions; six-coordinate group IV amine bis(phenolates)