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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:LEHIGH UNIVERSITY
Doing Business As Name:Lehigh University
PD/PI:
  • Israel E Wachs
  • (610) 758-4274
  • iew0@lehigh.edu
Award Date:04/21/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 499,999
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 499,999
  • FY 2021=$499,999
Start Date:05/01/2021
End Date:04/30/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.049
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Molecular Design of Solid Acid Catalysts for Upgrading Shale Gas Ethylene to Butenes
Federal Award ID Number:2102555
DUNS ID:808264444
Parent DUNS ID:068570936
Program:Chemical Catalysis
Program Officer:
  • Laura Anderson
  • (703) 292-2934
  • laanders@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:Alumni Building 27
City:Bethlehem
State:PA
ZIP:18015-3005
County:Bethlehem
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:07

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Lehigh University
Street:111 Research Drive
City:Bethlehem
State:PA
ZIP:18015-4731
County:Bethlehem
Country:US
Cong. District:07

Abstract at Time of Award

With the support of the Chemical Catalysis Program in the Division of Chemistry, Professor Wachs of Lehigh University is studying the reactivity of solid acid catalysts for the production of chemicals and fuels from the abundant and inexpensive shale gas in America. The investigated solid acid catalysts are materials that accelerate chemical reactions for upgrading ethylene derived from shale gas by converting ethylene to chemicals and fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. By increasing understanding and improving the efficiency and selectivity of these catalysts, Professor Wachs and his research group are contributing to the development of more efficient and selective processes that avoid the separation challenges and undesirable emissions associated with traditional liquid acid catalysts. These activities are helping to advance the use of solid acid catalysts toward the production of less expensive chemicals and fuels from abundant shale gas and decrease imports of crude oil with its environmentally undesirable emissions. The results generated from these activities are being showcased in annual summer workshops at the Lehigh Valley Da Vinci Science Center where visitors of all ages are being exposed to the new technologies being developed for shale gas that create valuable chemicals and fuels. In spite of numerous reported studies of ethylene coupling by solid acid catalysts, a fundamental understanding is still lacking that is preventing the rational design of improved systems. Professor Wachs and his research team are working toward the development of an advanced understanding of the behavior of nickel sulfated zirconia catalysts and investigating whether the performance of these materials is tunable by adjusting the catalyst synthesis procedure. Fundamental details of how ethylene is interacting with these solid acid catalysts to undergo the coupling reaction are being directly monitored with modern spectroscopic methods during the ethylene dimerization reaction. These studies are providing insight and guiding the rational design of improved solid acid catalysts for upgrading shale gas-derived ethylene to chemicals and fuels. The diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students involved in these activities are also receiving excellent training, exposure to cutting edge research instrumentation and introduction to pressing technological problems. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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