CHBE Seminar: Dr. Anna C. Alba-Rubio, Clemson University
Friday, October 20, 2023
Room 2108 Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Building
Orchestrating different catalytic sites to close the carbon cycle
Abstract: Catalysts can be good at multitasking when possessing the right tools (sites). This talk will present two catalytic strategies aiming to close the carbon cycle: CO2 capture and utilization (CCU) and biomass valorization. First, we will address the synthesis of inverse metal oxide–metal catalysts for the hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol and the addition of a sorbent component for the development of dual-function materials (CO2 capture and conversion). This one-pot approach has the potential to eliminate current energy-intensive and corrosive CO2 capture and storage processes while producing important commodity chemicals and fuels. Secondly, we will discuss the ability of polystyrene sulfonic acid-based catalysts to combine the advantages of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. In this regard, we will present our efforts in the development of novel soluble and reusable polymer catalysts with Brønsted and Lewis acid sites for the one-pot synthesis of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) from glucose. HMF is a valuable platform chemical, and there is an important market for some of its derivatives, such as furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) and adipic acid.
BIO: Dr. Ana C. Alba-Rubio is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Clemson University. She received her B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Malaga, Spain, in 2007. She then moved to the Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry (CSIC) in Madrid, Spain, to pursue her doctoral studies under the supervision of Dr. Manuel López Granados. After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Alba-Rubio joined the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to conduct postdoctoral research with Prof. James Dumesic and Prof. Manos Mavrikakis. In 2015, she joined the faculty at the University of Toledo, and in 2021, she moved to Clemson University as an associate professor. Her current research interests involve the rational design and synthesis of heterogeneous catalysts to provide fuels and materials sustainably and the development of nanomaterials for sensing applications. Dr. Alba-Rubio holds the 2023 I&EC Early Career Fellow Award from the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society, a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, the 2019 UToledo College of Engineering Excellence in Supervision of Undergraduate Research Award, and the 2018 UToledo Outstanding Scholarly and Creative Activity Award. She was also named to the 2020 Class of Influential Researchers by the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research journal, 2021 Nanoscale Emerging Investigators, 2022 Energy & Fuels Rising Stars, and 2022 Catalysis & Science Technology Emerging Investigators. She currently serves as a director of the AIChE Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division (CRE).