College Grants & Sponsored Programs

NSF Grant Supports Development of the Union Catalytic Testbed (UCaT)

Publication Date

MRI: Development of an Instrument for Testing Catalytic Aerogel
The National Science Foundation
Office of International and Integrative Activities, Major Research Instrumentation Program
Award Amount: $276,477 | Effective Dates: 09/01/2012 – 08/31/2015 | Award ID: CBET-1228851
Project Personnel: Principal Investigator Bradford Bruno (Mechanical Engineering); co-PIs Ann Anderson (Mechanical Engineering), Mary Carroll (Chemistry)
Project Summary: This proposal will fund an interdisciplinary team in Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry at Union College to develop an advanced modular engineering testbed. The Union Catalytic Testbed (UCaT), which will consist of a gas mixing system, a catalytic reactor and a gas sensing system, will provide this interdisciplinary group with the capability to undertake experiments in catalytic aerogel material (CAM) performance that are currently not possible, because there are no commercially available instruments or systems that have the required capabilities for the application and are economically feasible for an undergraduate institution. The unique physical properties of aerogel materials, including high surface area, low density and good thermal stability, offer significant advantages for use as automotive catalysts. The Union College researchers have developed a novel rapid supercritical extraction (RSCE) process for fabricating aerogels, and have demonstrated convincingly that a variety of types of aerogels can be readily fabricated using the RSCE process, that powdered RSCE nickel-alumina aerogels show activity as three-way catalysts (TWCs), and that RSCE aerogels can be cast onto support structures used in current catalytic converter technology. Construction of UCaT will allow the group to significantly extend its research, providing the capability to test the catalytic ability of CAMs under realistic end-use conditions, in order to facilitate the development of CAMs and support parallel fundamental work.