Year Awarded: 2021
Research Lab: Matteo Cargnello
Mickey Stone received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016, where his undergraduate research focused on nano-structured catalysts for hydrogen production under the guidance of Professor Song Jin. Mickey received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June 2021. During his graduate research under the guidance of Professor Yuriy Román, he studied the production of fuels and chemicals from renewable biomass feedstocks. Specifically, he developed processes to upgrade a wasted fraction of biomass called lignin, the utilization of which could improve both the economics and sustainability of biofuel production and reduce our dependency on petroleum.
Engineered low-noble metal content catalysts for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
Combustion of fuels in the energy and transportation sectors produces the poisonous gasses carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and hydrocarbons (HC) that lead to the formation of acid rain, smog, ozone and global warming. Emissions control catalysts convert these compounds into CO2, H2O, and N2, which are inert from a public health standpoint and have lower global warming potential (GWP). For example, hydrocarbons such as methane, which have a GWP value of around 28-36, can be converted into CO2 that have a GWP value of 1. Currently, emission control catalysts rely heavily on precious platinum group metals (PGM), with automotive catalytic converters accounting for 51% of the global demand of PGM due to high loadings (~10 g total) of Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium. These precious metals are expensive and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are also generated during their production. Therefore, reducing the amount of the PGMs needed to effectively convert poisonous and potent gases will reduce the cost of emissions control devices as well as further reduce GHG emissions. High loadings are required because the catalyst rapidly deactivates, reducing the noble metal utilization efficiency by over 30x. Mickey’s project aims to address these challenges using controlled nanoparticle synthesis and operando spectroscopy to fundamentally understand deactivation mechanisms and design new catalysts that minimize noble metal utilization.