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  • Posted by Jiaqi Wu /
  • September 12, 2014

Seminar: Catalysts for Methane Utilizationchuang seminar

Steven Chuang
Department of Polymer Science, University of Akron

Monday, September 22, 2014
10:30 a.m.
Biodesign Center Auditorium (BD) 210, Tempe Campus 



Methane is a major component of shale gas. Recent oversupply of shale gas has changed the landscape of energy and chemical industries in the U.S. The U.S. utilities are producing about 30% of electricity from natural and shale gas, increasing from 15% in 2010. US chemical industries have begun using ethane from shale gas as a feedstock. The low methane price is expected to push its producers to search for ways to expand its uses in the following areas: (i) production of value-added chemicals, (ii) efficient electricity generation through fuel cells, and (iii) methane storage for vehicles.

The key approach for converting CH4 to higher value chemicals is the catalytic partial oxidation reaction.
This presentation will discuss the use of in situ infrared (IR) spectroscopy and transient approaches to study catalytic reaction mechanisms of CH4 partial oxidation, dry reforming to syngas (CO2 + CH4 -> CO + H2), and electrochemical oxidation of CH4 in the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). In situ IR studies revealed that adsorbed oxygen leading to the formation of CO was found to be different from those leading to CO2 in CH4 partial oxidation. The selectivity toward CO could be enhanced by selective poisoning the CO2 formation sites on the catalyst surface. Transient studies revealed that electricity generation from the direct CH4-SOFC on the Ni-based catalysts involved decomposition of CH4 to surface carbon/coke and adsorbed hydrogen, followed by electrochemical oxidation with oxygen anions. The addition of CO2 to the feed of the direct CH4-SOFC initiated dry reforming reaction and eliminated the CH4 decomposition/coke formation pathway, producing syngas for electrochemical oxidation. Elimination of coke formation allowed the Ni anode catalyst in the SOFC to operate for a long period of time without appreciable deactivation. This presentation will also briefly discuss the current state of R&D on (i) activation of C-H bond for converting CH4 to other chemicals and (ii) methane storage for vehicle.


Steven S. C. Chuang obtained his Ph.D. from University of Pittsburgh, 1985. He joined the University of Akron in 1986 and began his research in using transient infrared spectroscopic techniques in studying CO related reactions. He served as Chair of Chemical Engineering in 1997-2005. His research shifted to CO2 capture, photocatalysis, and catalysis of solid oxide fuel cells. In 2009, he established FirstEnergyAdvanced Energy Research Center, focusing on the development of CO2 capture and carbon fuel cell technologies. In 2011, he was appointed as Professor of Polymer Science and is organizing Advanced Energy Materials Research at the College of Polymer Science/Engineering at the University of Akron.

Please contact Durella O’Donnell at for more information, or if you would like to meet with Dr. Chuang while he is on campus.

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