Chen Lab

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Scott Auerbach Awarded New NSF Grant on Quantum Chemistry of Biofuels

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Scott Auerbach received a new, 3-year grant from the NSF ($330,000 from CBET*/Engineering) entitled: "Predictive Ab Initio Dynamics in Zeolite Biofuel Production Catalysts: Towards More Gas and Less Coke."

This was funded by Dr. Robert McCabe, program director of the Catalysis and Biocatalysis subdivision of CBET (Chemical, Biological, Environmental, and Transport Systems).

This project involves application of computational and theoretical chemistry methods to design new nanoporous catalysts (aka "zeolites") for converting biomass-derived feestocks into a useful range of chemicals and fuels, while avoiding the buildup of carbonaceous deposits (aka coke, not pepsi) that often arrest such processes. Thematically, this project lives in the nexus of computational science, nano-science, and energy science. The idea is to learn how these processes work today and can be optimized in the future without the difficulty of expensive (and sometimes impossible) experiments. In short, computational chemistry provides the most powerful atomic microscope, allowing us to see the rearrangement of atoms, and to tune and control such rearrangements to solve human problems, such as the need for clean, sustainable energy. This funding will support graduate students and the purchase of new, powerful computational equipment.

(September 2015)