Seminar Series – William F. Schneider, Ph.D.

William Schneider, Ph.D.

Date(s) - 10/21/2019
9:35 am - 10:25 am

New Engineering Building – Room 201

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William F. Schneider, Ph.D.
H. Clifford and Evelyn A. Brosey Professor of Engineering
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Notre Dame

“The Catalytic Science of Making Up and Breaking Up Dinitrogen


The chemistry of nitrogen is inextricably linked with humanity’s use of energy. Industrial nitrogen fixation (N2 −−! NH3) revolutionized the production of fertilizer and enabled the population explosion of the 20th century, consuming several percent of the world’s energy annually in the process. NOx reduction (NOx −−! N2) is integral to reducing the terrible adverse impacts of automobile use on urban air quality and health. These and other successful technologies all depend at their heart on heterogeneous catalysis. In this presentation I will discuss the insights we have gained by applying molecular-level models and concepts to nitrogen catalytic chemistry. Examples will be drawn from our work on the the selective catalytic reduction of NOx, a problem that has led us to rethink the factors that govern reactivity in zeolites, from NO and NH3 oxidation, problems that have caused us to revisit how we model reactions at metal surfaces, and from N2 reduction,where we are exploring the potential to bypass the constraints imposed by mother nature on the performance of conventional catalysts.


Bill Schneider’s expertise is in chemical applications of density functional theory (DFT) simulations. After receiving his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the Ohio State University, he began his professional career in the Ford Motor Company Research Laboratory working on a variety of problems related to the environmental impacts of automobile emissions. At Ford he developed an interest in the catalytic chemistry of NOx for diesel emissions control, and he has published extensively on the chemistry and mechanisms of NOx decomposition, selective catalytic reduction, trapping, and oxidation catalysis. In 2004 he joined the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering faculty at the University of Notre Dame as an Associate Professor. At Notre Dame he has continued his research into the theory and. molecular simulation of heterogeneous catalysis, with particular emphasis on reaction environment effects on catalytic materials and their implications for mechanism and reactivity. He was promoted to Professor in 2010 and awarded the H. Clifford and Evelyn A. Brosey Chair in the College of Engineering in 2016. He has co-authored more than 170 papers and book chapters, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is a Senior Editor for The Journal of Physical Chemistry, and was the 2018 recipient of the Giuseppe Parravano Award of the Michigan Catalysis Society. He makes his home in Granger, Indiana with his three children, Justin, MiMi, and Meredith.