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The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Faculty & Staff

Research of Yong Wang: Overview

Our research interests focus on catalysis and reaction engineering innovation to address the carbon and energy efficiency issues in sustainable conversion of fossil and biomass feedstocks to fuels and chemicals. We closely collaborate with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to use a full array of (in situ) state-of-the-art characterization techniques, coupled with reactivity measurements and theoretical calculations, to understand catalysts and catalysis processes at the atomic/molecular level. These techniques include attenuated total reflectance (ATR-IR), vibrational spectroscopies (FTIR and Raman), sum frequency generation spectroscopy (SFG), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy, solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), high-resolution electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), atom probe tomography (APT), and synchrotron-based X-ray techniques (EXAFS and XANES). Extensive collaborations with other researchers and organizations including PNNL are unique advantages of our group. Our ultimate goal is twofold: (i) developing safer, greener and more efficient catalytic processes; (ii) obtaining fundamental knowledge to direct future catalysis research. This general strategy network is shown below:

Energy Sources: Biomass, Fossils; Intermediates: Syngas; Alcohols/Acids, Hydrogen; Products: Hydrocarbon Fuels, Chemicals, Fuel Cells; Biomass and Fossils combined with Hydrogen can be used to create Fuel Cells; Biomass with Alcohol/Acids can be combined to form Chemicals or Hydrocarbon Fuels; Biomass and Fossils combined with Syngas can be used to create Hydrocarbon Fuels or Chemicals; Energy Sources are Fundamental - as you move to Intermediates and then to Products, you move to Applied

Catalysis and Reaction EngineeringJ

Current research focus:

Early transition metal oxide catalysts

  • Nano crystalline metal oxides with controlled facets to bridge the material and pressure gaps between practical and planar model catalysts
  • Control of acid-base properties to upgrade fermentation-derived oxygenates, e.g., ethanol

Bimetallic catalysts

  • Catalyst design based on earth abundant elements, e.g., Fe.
  • Sub-nanometer sized catalysts to better utilize precious metals.

Advanced characterizations (e.g., in the presence of water) to provide molecular level understanding of

  • Chemical transformations at the solid-liquid interfaces
  • C-C, C-O, O-H bond cleavage of sugar alcohols