Helena Hagelin-Weaver
Ph.D., 1999, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
Associate Professor
Ph : 352-392-6585
Fax : 352-392-9513
323 Chemical Engineering Building
Heterogeneous Catalysis
Nanoparticle Oxides
Surface Characterizations

We work on heterogeneous catalyst development in our laboratory and our main objective is to obtain a fundamental understanding of these catalysts at the atomic level. This requires well-defined heterogeneous catalysts and our approach is to use nanoparticle oxides as supports for various active metals in the preparation of our catalysts. In addition to resulting in more well-defined catalysts compared to active metals on more conventional supports, another advantage of using nanoparticle oxides as supports is that the high number of coordinatively unsaturated sites on the surface of the nanoparticles can lead to strong metal-support interactions and unique catalytic properties. We are particularly interested in how the nanoscopic properties of the supports influence the active metals on the surface of these supports. Our research involves preparation of nanoparticle oxides with narrow size distributions, catalyst preparation using the nanoparticle oxides as supports, and catalyst characterization using a number of analytical techniques to determine how the particle size of the oxide support influences the active metal and thus also the catalytic activities and selectivities. The analytical techniques include; Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area measurements, chemisorption of probe molecules, such as carbon monoxide, to determine active metal surface area, temperature programmed reduction and oxidation (TPR and TPO) experiments to determine reduction-oxidation (redox) properties, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) to determine electronic structure and surface chemical composition, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to determine particle sizes and distribution of active metals on the support, and X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements to determine crystal structure.

Our main research focus is on environmentally friendly, energy-related reactions. Our projects include catalyst development for hydrogen production via catalytic steam reforming of methanol (for proton exchange membrane, or PEM, fuel cell applications), C-H activation and C-C coupling of aromatic compounds, oxidative coupling of methane (methane to higher-value chemicals), Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of diesel fuel from biomass-derived synthesis gas (CO + H2), and thermochemical water-splitting using solar energy. We are also working on catalyst characterization for direct methanol fuel cells.

Major Equipment
  • Continuous gas-phase reactor system with an on-line gas chromatograph for product analysis

Recent Publications
1. Luke M. Neal, Michael L. Everett, Gar B. Hoflund, Helena E. Hagelin-Weaver, “Characterization of Palladium Oxide Catalysts Supported on Nanoparticle Metal Oxides for the Oxidative Coupling of 4-Methylpyridine,” J. Mol. Catal. A 335 (2011) 210-221.
2. Samuel D. Jones, Luke M. Neal, Michael L. Everett, Gar B. Hoflund, Helena E. Hagelin-Weaver, “Characterization of ZrO2-promoted Cu/ZnO/nano-Al2O3 methanol steam reforming catalysts,” Appl. Surf. Sci. 256 (2010) 7345-7353.
3 Luke M. Neal, Samuel D. Jones, Michael L. Everett, Gar B. Hoflund, Helena E. Hagelin-Weaver, “Characterization of alumina-supported palladium oxide catalysts used in the oxidative coupling of 4-methylpyridine,” J. Mol. Catal. A 325 (2010) 25-35.
4. Samuel D. Jones, Helena E. Hagelin-Weaver, “Steam reforming of methanol over CeO2- and ZrO2-promoted Cu-ZnO catalysts supported on nanoparticle Al2O3,” Appl. Catal. B 90 (2009) 195-204. 
5. Luke M. Neal, Daniel Hernandez, Helena E. Hagelin-Weaver, “Effects of nanoparticle and porous metal oxide supports on the activity of palladium catalysts in the oxidative coupling of 4-methylpyridine,” J. Mol. Catal. A 307 (2009) 29-36.