(4ci) Development of Catalysts for Environmental Remediation and Clean Energy Applications | AIChE

(4ci) Development of Catalysts for Environmental Remediation and Clean Energy Applications


Najimu, M. - Presenter, University of California Irvine
Research Interests

Advancement in energy and chemical production as well as environmental remediation would always require improvement in the properties of nanomaterials including catalysts. One promising synthesis method for material development is flame spray pyrolysis (FSP) because it is single-step, fast, scalable and cost-effective. In addition, it is a high temperature synthesis methodology that allows control of its synthesis environment. I have engaged in general fundamental understanding of the FSP synthesis method through physics-based modelling of the droplet combustion stage which is one of its critical stages. The model reveals how precursor droplets interact with and respond to the thermal synthesis environment during FSP. The understanding of the droplet-thermal synthesis environment interaction facilitates the design of certain rules for the synthesis of nanomaterials in FSP, especially rules related to release of precursor, a factor that is poorly characterized. My research interest in this perspective is advancing the fundamental understanding through modelling and simulation for further development of design rules for nanomaterial design in flame spray pyrolysis. Also, the incorporation of machine learning paradigm with the modelling would facilitate the optimization of material property.

Part of my PhD research is developing catalysts for natural gas engines emissions control. The high stability of methane molecule makes it hard to combust catalytically especially at moderate temperature and there has been continuous effort to lower the temperature, to T50% less than 300 oC-400oC. Motivated by the maximized atom efficiency, improved surface energy, increased specific activity and selectivity of single atom catalysts compared to their nanoparticle-based counterparts, I developed atomically dispersed Pd/CeO2 catalysts of suitable metal-support interaction to maximize methane reaction activity and stability, using flame spray pyrolysis and other synthesis methods. I have interest in exploring this research area further while also diversifying to other projects related to clean energy applications.

Teaching interest

I am interested in learning and teaching, relying on my teaching and mentorship experience. While serving as a lecturer outside the US, I taught senior students chemical engineering lab courses that involve reaction engineering and process control and served as teaching assistant for mass transfer course. Within the US, I have taught senior students chemical engineering labs that test the knowledge of the fundamentals of chemical engineering such as fluid flow, heat transfer, momentum transfer and mass transfer; involving lab report grading. I have also served as TA for a chemical engineering thermodynamic course which entailed grading homework’s, quizzes and midterms and final exams and interacting with students during office hours. Based on this experience, I have interest in teaching some fundamental chemical engineering courses such as reaction engineering, thermodynamics, and transport phenomena. I am also interested in developing courses around my research. In addition, I have mentored undergraduate senior students on research. I mentored an undergraduate student on the development of python code for high throughput analysis of LIBS spectra. Another undergraduate senior student under my mentorship won the 2020 Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) fellowship. I would like to advance in teaching and mentoring.