CHE - 555: Heterogeneous Catalysis and Kinetics

Home Courses Labs Location Publications


CHE, MT, EN, CH, NANO - 555

Catalysis and Characterization of Nanoparticles

Summer -1

Course Flyer


Tuesday afternoon: Lectures plus Experimental and Computational Lab Exercises

Chemistry Elective for the Chemical Engineering Major


Introduction to chemical catalysis with an emphasis on heterogeneous reactions.                                       

Characterization of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles.

 Concepts of heterogeneous catalysis in commercial technologies in petroleum and chemical industries.

 Challenges in the development of new nanomaterials and catalytic technologies for energy applications and green chemistry for sustainability.

    Most processes in petroleum and chemical industries utilize catalytic reactions. Moreover, many emerging technologies in the energy sector and in green chemistry for sustainability rely on catalysis. This course provides the fundamentals of synthesis, characterization and testing of catalytic materials with an emphasis on metal and metal oxide nanoparticles, the most widely used class of catalysts. Methodologies for development of molecular-level reaction mechanisms, material structure-activity relations and kinetic models are described. The course is essential for anyone planning a career in the chemical industry. It is recommended for all professionals working with nanoparticles and also with diverse applications where the solid-gas interface is important.

horizontal rule

Schedule: Tuesday afternoon

Textbook: “Concepts of Modern Catalysis and Kinetics” by I. Chorkendorff , J. W. Niemantsverdriet, Wiley-VCH; 3rd edition  (2017), ISBN: 9783527332687.

Additional recommended reading (optional): “Heterogeneous Catalysis for the Synthetic Chemist” Robert L. Augustine, CRC Press; 1st edition (1995), ISBN-10: 0824790219, ISBN-13: 978-0824790219.


                CH-115 General Chemistry I or equivalent.

                CH-116 General Chemistry II or equivalent.

                CHE-234 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics or equivalent.

Registration: If you have taken the prerequisite courses at a different university, please send this information to the instructor ( to receive a waiver. Use the E-mail confirmation with the waiver from the instructor to have the prerequisite restrictions removed by your Department office (CHE and MT student should contact Ms. Nancy Webb at the CEMS office).

The course can be taken as a Chemistry Elective by ChE undergraduate students.

horizontal rule




Class participation


Midterm exam


Project and presentation


horizontal rule

Course outline:

(1) Introduction to catalysis. Use of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles in catalysis. Homogeneous, heterogeneous and bio catalysis. Catalysis in energy research and green chemistry for sustainability.

(2) Kinetics of catalytic reactions. Integrated rate equations. Mean field approximation. Langmuir-Hinshelwood and Eley-Rideal reaction models. Steady-state approximation.

(3) Kinetics of catalytic reactions at nanoscale. Reaction rates based on the transition state theory.

(4) Elementary reaction steps. Adsorption on crystal planes and nanoparticles. Reactions between adsorbed species. Catalyst deactivation and regeneration.

(5) Characterization of nanoparticles for adsorption and catalysis applications: XRD, XPS, EXAFS. Description of the techniques, the nature of information obtained with these techniques, interpretation of results for establishing structure-catalytic activity relations. Usefulness and limitations.

(6) Characterization of nanoparticles for adsorption and catalysis applications: electron microscopies and Mossbauer spectroscopy. Usefulness and limitations.

(7) Characterization of nanoparticles for adsorption and catalysis applications with vibrational spectroscopies (HREELS, Raman and IR) and DFT calculations. Usefulness and limitations.

(8) Characterization of nanoparticles for adsorption and catalysis applications: SIMS, LEIS, and RBS ion spectroscopies; temperature programmed reactions. Usefulness and limitations.

(9) Catalysis with metal and metal oxide nanoparticles. Preparation and testing methods. Common catalyst supports. Zeolites as catalysts and catalyst supports. Inhibitors, promoters and poisons.

(10) Physisorption, chemisorption, dissociation. Reactions on surfaces at nanoscale. Bridging the scale gap between molecular reaction mechanisms and observable reaction rates.

(11) Kinetic modeling based on elementary reaction steps at the molecular level. Activation energy and reaction orders. Deriving kinetic expressions from elementary reaction mechanisms.

(12) Examples of commercial applications with catalytic nanoparticles. Catalytic reactions with hydrogen: steam reforming, methanol synthesis, synthetic fuels with Fischer-Tropsch chemistry, fuel cells.

(13) Examples of commercial applications with catalytic nanoparticles. Oil refining: hydrotreating, fluid catalytic cracking, reforming. Challenges for new technologies for green chemistry and sustainability: oxygen and hydrogen peroxide as benign oxidants with water as the only byproduct.


horizontal rule