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Understanding and Tailoring Metal-Support Interactions in Heterogeneous Catalysts

Platinum is an archetypical catalyst used for a variety of applications, including fuel cells, electrolyzers, and processes involved in the production of renewable chemicals. Unfortunately, the use of platinum as a catalyst is cost prohibitive. A variety of options is available to mitigate the cost, one of which includes synthesizing high surface area platinum catalyst. Most often, the catalysts synthesized for fuel cells and electrolyzers consist of platinum deposited on a high surface area carbon support. The interactions between the platinum nanoparticles and the carbon support are not well understood and additional research is required to optimize the activity and long term stability of these catalysts.

The student will join a dynamic group working on a variety of projects pertaining to the catalytic conversion of biomass and the production of renewable energy. In addition, the student will learn to synthesize and characterize nanostructured catalysts using state-of-the-art techniques available in the group and at the Ames Laboratory in order to establish structure-activity correlations. 

Mentor: Jean-Philippe Tessonnier, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Iowa State University.