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UW Researchers Receive Advanced Photon Source Use Award from Argonne National Laboratory | News

May 12, 2022

Qian Yang, who holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from UW. candidate from Laramie, is part of a team of UW researchers who recently received an award to use the Advanced Photon Source – a high-energy X-ray light source facility – at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill.

Researchers from the University of Wyoming recently won an award to use the Advanced Photon Source (APS) – a high-energy X-ray light source facility – at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois.

The project is led by Jing Zhou, professor of physical chemistry, and Joseph Holles, adjunct professor of chemical engineering. The research team is working to perform in-situ X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements on a new catalyst, capable of converting carbon dioxide mixed with methane into a valuable syngas using a dry reforming process.

If the project is successful, the gas returned from the conversion process can be applied to the manufacture of solvents and high-demand chemicals used in the manufacture of coal-derived engineering products on site, or simply sold as a commodity .

The Carbon Capture and Conversion Center (CCCC) at UW’s School of Energy Resources (SER) is funding the project.

“There are many industrial and academic researchers looking to use the APS facility, and gaining acceptance to use the facility is very competitive,” said CCCC director Richard Horner. “Over the past three years, the cut score that determines successful awards has gone from around 1.9 to 1.4 – 1 being the best. The project received a final score of 1.3, suggesting that independent reviewers have recognized the work and believe it to be of significant industrial and scientific importance.

The catalyst formulation is proprietary and patent pending, with early lab results indicating excellent performance and handling characteristics. Technological advancements through sophisticated APS equipment will be the first step in scaling up and commercializing the catalyst.

“We are fortunate to be offered time on the most advanced synchrotron facility in the world,” says Horner. “This is a great opportunity for the team to better understand why the catalyst works the way it does and to generate insights for further performance improvement as we work to bring our technology to market.”

According to Horner, the challenge of industrializing the catalyst developed by the team is how to best anchor the active components cerium, titanium and nickel on an alumina support, necessary to ensure mechanical stability. The team developed half a dozen methods for attaching the active components to the alumina support.

UW doctoral student Qian Yang, from Laramie, worked to develop an anchoring solution for the catalyst as part of his thesis research. He will visit the APS facilities in July to advance the project.

“XRD is one of the most widely used techniques in catalyst studies,” Yang says. “By measuring the intensities and scattering angles of X-rays emitted from the catalyst sample, XRD can be used for phase identification of crystalline catalyst material and provide information on unit cell dimensions. “

The results of the studies at the APS Argonne facility will be critical in selecting the desirable catalyst synthesis formulation and catalyst manufacturing route, he says.

“At APS, we will be able to perform in situ XRD measurements on our catalyst samples under dry methane reforming reaction conditions. This will elucidate the active phases evolving during the reaction,” adds Yang.

Yang received his bachelor’s degree in Energy Resources Management and Development from SER in 2016, majoring in Fossil Energy. He worked in China for two years as a chemical engineer before returning to UW to pursue his doctorate. in chemical engineering.