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Lehigh University logo
Lehigh University logo

Meghan Stranick and Alyssa Talley

How it’s made: CO2 formation during Ethylene Oxidation

Department: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Advisor: Israel Wachs

Ethylene oxide is an important intermediate product in the chemical industry. This strained, cyclic, highly reactive ether is produced industrially by the oxidation of ethylene on a supported silver alumina catalyst. To understand the kinetics and mechanism by which carbon dioxide is formed during ethylene oxidation, four silver alumina catalysts, three of which were promoted (AgAl, AgCsAl, AgReAl, and AgCsReAl) were studied. Understanding the exact mechanism that forms ethylene oxide is critical to formulating catalysts to be able to improve product selectivity and minimize CO2 greenhouse gas formation. Cutting edge in situ Temperature Programmed Surface Reaction (TPSR) spectroscopy experiments were performed. Based on the results of these and complementary operando Raman spectroscopy experiments, we conclude that CO2 is primarily a product from the further oxidation of ethylene oxide.

About Meghan Stranick:
Meghan Stranick is a senior at Lehigh University pursuing a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Through the Iacocca Internship program, Meghan worked as a summer research intern at the Universiti of Teknologi Petronas in Perak, Malaysia in the Research Center for Carbon Dioxide Capture. Her project involved screening piperazine and selected derivatives as potential solvents for use in amine based carbon dioxide capture technology. This past summer while working at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, she discovered her true interest in the biotechnology field and has accepted a position at the company following graduation this spring. On campus, Meghan is involved in the Society of Women Engineers, AIChE, and Alpha Gamma Delta.

About Alyssa Talley:
Alyssa Talley is a senior chemical engineering student at Lehigh University. Over the past year, she and Meghan Stranick have worked under Professor Israel Wachs and Dr. Mike Ford to study the kinetics and mechanism of ethylene oxidation as part of the Opportunities for Student Innovation Program. Alyssa has previously completed three internships in the oil refining industry, two at Monroe Energy, LLC as a Commercial Intern and Process Engineering Co-op, and one at Philadelphia Energy Solutions, LLC as a Continuous Improvement Intern. At Lehigh, she is involved in AIChE, Alpha Phi Omega (a community service fraternity), Rossin Junior Engineering Fellows and Colleges Against Cancer. After graduation, Alyssa will be working in Product Development at W.L. Gore and Associates.