The innovation engine for new materials

Kimberly Lopez-Zepeda

Kimberly Lopez-Zepeda




Fullerton Community College


Insoo Ro

Faculty Sponsor(s): 

Phillip Christopher

Faculty Sponsor's Department(s): 

Chemical Engineering

Project Title: 

Synthesis and Characterization of Heteroatom Catalyst for Selective Ethylene Dimerization

Project Description: 

Propylene (PPYL) is an essential ingredient to fabricating surfactants, synthetic oils, and pharmaceuticals. These materials aid in the creation of a number of day-to-day products like soaps, liquid cleaners, and assist with oil based machinery. However, in recent years the global supply of PPYL has steadily declined as its demand has continuously increased by an average of 4 million metric tons per year (IHS Market, Global Propylene Market). In hopes of creating a novel approach for PPYL production, this research focuses on the creation of a heterogeneous catalyst for ethylene dimerization(ED) reaction. Combination of support acid sites (WO3 and Methyl Phosphonic Acid) and active transition metals (Rh, Ni, Pt) is a highly selective approach to initialize ED, the first step in the production cycle of PPYL. Selective deposition of Rh near WOx acidic sites was achieved using Strong Electric Adsorption method which uses the difference in point of zero charge, characterized by inductive coupled plasma mass spectroscopy. A fingerprint of the catalysts was investigated with the use of Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform Spectroscopy (DRIFTS), with CO as a probe molecule used to identify metal structure and Pyridine as probe molecule used to identify surface acidity. Future work will focus on analyzing the structure of acid sites nearby catalytic metal compositions on the surface via Raman Spectroscopy. Fundamentally, understanding active site and reaction mechanism will aid in future synthetic approaches for distinct catalyst utilization.