(6al) Development of Heterogeneous Catalysis towards a Sustainable Future

Authors: 
Wang, Y., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests:

The prosperity of a growing population has placed significant stress on the environment and society, and led to many grand challenges in climate, energy, water, and food, etc. Due to its transforming power, catalysis is definitely a key part of the solutions to these problems. My research interests are to understand and develop heterogeneous catalysis for a sustainable future.

In my Ph.D. research with Prof. Yuriy Román-Leshkov in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT, I have developed effective catalytic strategies to convert biomass-derived molecules into mono- and dicarboxylic acids and esters. In particular, by exploiting the dual-function heteroatom-containing zeolites, we enabled the activation of carbonyl groups for carbon-carbon coupling to upgrade biomass-derived oxygenates into renewable monomers, and we also developed stable reducible metal oxides supported gold catalysts for base-free aqueous aerobic oxidation of glucose by maximizing the anchoring and activating benefits from the oxygen vacancies of metal oxides. In my current postdoctoral research with Prof. William H. Green in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT, my research interest is on the prediction of reaction kinetics in liquid phase.

Motivated by those grand challenges, I would like to extend and expand the two types of chemistry, i.e. activation of carbonyl groups and aqueous aerobic oxidation of organic molecules, to contribute to the solutions. Specifically, I am interested in developing heterogeneous catalysis for and understanding the mechanism and kinetics of 1) conversion of carbon dioxide into chemicals and fuels, and 2) remediation of pollutants in water.

Teaching Interests:

My preference includes kinetics and reaction engineering courses for undergraduate and graduate students, which naturally fit my research experience. I would also like to develop electives that focus on heterogeneous catalysis and/or kinetics. During my Ph.D., I have been the teaching assistant for undergraduate kinetics courses. I have also mentored undergraduate students and master students in my Ph.D. and current postdoctoral research.

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