Faculty Mentor: Klavs F. Jensen
Direct Supervisor: Ulrich Neuenschwander
Home University: University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
Major: Chemical Engineering
Hi my name is Arnaldo Negron. I am studying a Bachelor ’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. I am originally from Puerto Rico, where I frequently play basketball, tennis, and many other sports. My research interest focuses on the application of nanotechnology on biomedical problems and in Chemical Engineering field. My goals include finishing my undergraduate degree, pursuing a Ph.D., and eventually become a professor. Through this, I will be able to make a meaningful contribution to my field and to my country.
Indirect Molybdenum-catalyzed Oxidation of Alcohols
Visible spectroscopy and gas chromatography (GC) are being employed to study the role of a molybdenum (VI) catalyst in the oxidation of alcohols. Small-scale batch reactions were performed to accurately measure the kinetics of catalysis. Initially, benzyl alcohol was used as a model substrate to get first insight into the mechanism of the reactions and analyze the product selectivity. This model system showed successful alcohol oxidation and the transient appearance of a blue catalyst intermediate supported the mechanistic hypothesis of the reaction. In a next step, cyclohexanol oxidations were performed to study the ketone production therein. As expected, this reaction showed a higher selectivity than using benzyl alcohol, and a sustainably high reaction rate. This was rationalized by a test reaction, in which we found that the catalyst can be poisoned by carboxylic acids, which are absent in the cyclohexanol case. A potential application of our results is the enhancement of nylon-6 monomer production, where a high ketone-to-alcohol ratio is desired. Furthermore, the developed reaction has the potential to be scaled-up in a continuous way, for the production of large amounts of product.