Laboratory Learning Program 2023 - Design of catalysts for plasma-assisted ammonia synthesis (CBE-05)

Research Opportunity Number: CBE-05

Project Title:  Design of catalysts for plasma-assisted ammonia synthesis

Project Summary: Ammonia is an important chemical for its use in fertilizers, solvents, fuels, and a wide variety of other applications. However, the current method to produce ammonia on an industrial scale, known as the Haber-Bosch process, is environmentally destructive. One alternate approach to synthesize ammonia is via plasma-excited species. Plasma is an ionized gas that can energize stable molecules, like nitrogen and hydrogen, by electron impact. Furthermore, plasma excitation can be coupled with a catalyst to selectively produce ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen. In this project, the student will investigate the effect of metal identity on plasma-assisted ammonia synthesis. Specifically, the student will learn how to produce metal-supported catalysts, how to characterize catalysts with basic microscopic and spectroscopic techniques, and how to perform catalytic experiments in a plasma flow reactor.

Student Roles and Responsibilities: The student(s) will learn how to synthesize catalysts of interest, involving solvo-thermal methods and wetness impregnation techniques. Learn how to characterize catalysts of interest by nitrogen physisorption, thermogravimetric analysis, and CO chemisorption. Perform plasma-assisted ammonia synthesis reactions in a plasma flow (dielectric barrier discharge) reactor and analyze mass spectrometry and oscilloscope results using Excel and MATLAB. 

Department/Institute:  Chemical and Biological Engineering

Faculty Sponsor:   Michele Sarazen

Participation Dates: June 12 - July 28, 2023. Students should be available at least 15 hours/week for a minimum of 6 weeks.

Stipend Offered:  $0

Number of Internships Available: 0-2

Application Deadline: March 15, 2023, midnight eastern daylight time