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Helena Weaver

Helena Weaver

Research Assistant Professor Department of Chemica, University of Florida

Phone: (352) 392-6585

Fax: (352) 392-9513

Department of Chemical Engineering
329 CHE, P.O. Box 116005, Gainesville, FL 32611



Ph.D. Chemistry, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, 1999

Research Interests:

In our research group we use a multidisciplinary approach to heterogeneous catalysis, using principles from organometallic chemistry, quantum chemistry, surface science, and reactor design and reaction kinetics. The objective of our research is to obtain a fundamental understanding of heterogeneous catalysis at the atomic level. To meet our objective we use nanoparticle oxides as supports for our catalysts in an attempt to prepare well-defined catalysts. The hypothesis is that starting from a nanoscopic material, depositing active metal clusters of small and narrow size distributions onto the support is facilitated. We are particularly interested in how the nanoscopic properties of these supports influence the catalytic properties. The catalysts are therefore characterized using a number of surface analytical techniques to determine properties that are critical for a high catalytic activity.

Our main research focus is on catalytic reactions that have environmental benefits. We are interested in hydrogen as a clean fuel and one of our main research areas is in hydrogen production via catalytic steam reforming. Our research goal is to develop highly efficient steam reforming catalysts that can operate at moderate temperatures. One of our research projects is devoted to producing hydrogen from biomass using Ni-based catalysts. We are also using alcohols, such as methanol and ethanol, as starting materials to produce hydrogen for fuel cell applications. To obtain a maximum hydrogen yield with minimum carbon monoxide formation we are focusing on Cu/Zn-based steam reforming catalysts for the alcohols.

The activities of our catalysts are measured in a catalytic reactor system designed to allow both liquid and gaseous feeds. The reactor system is equipped with an on-line gas chromatograph (GC) for product analysis. The GC system is designed to have a high sensitivity to hydrogen and also allow detection of low levels of carbon monoxide.