Lehigh University
Lehigh Universiy

You are here


New manuscripts, conferences, news blurbs etc

BaltrusaitisLab news on Twitter

For the foreseeable future BaltrusaitisLab news will transition into the Twitter handle @BaltrusJonas

William Taifan graduated

PhD student William Taifan graduated and defended his thesis on bifunctional catalysis for ethanol conversion. Congratulations Dr. Taifan!

Dr. B will be presenting on plastics recyling to Moravian Church in Bethlehem

Team Drywall (Eren, Carlos and Kenny) presented at the [LVAIC] Sustainability Conference 2018

Their work presented was on the design and manufacture on novel urea based fertilizers that utilize waste recycled drywall gypsum

new manuscript on reactive mechanochemical synthesis of urea ionic crystals

Urea ionic crystals made mechanochemically: solving National Academy of Engineering Nitrogen cycle problem using low solubility Mg and Ca minerals

A recent article designated as 2017 HOT article

Recent article in Catalysis Science & Technology was well received and has been highlighted by Editors as a HOT manuscript in 2017.

American Chemical Society symposium on slow release fertilizers

Recent paper on bioethanol catalytic upgrading process design

Ethanol production in the US has been increasing but the main use still remains blending with gasoline. n-butanol is a great chemical and even better fuel. We devised a separation process of the reactor effluent that converts ethanol to n-butanol.

Daniyal Kiani joins the group

Daniyal Kiani joined the groups to pursue his PhD studies. Welcome Daniyal!

Interdisciplinary Lehigh research team wins NSF support for next-generation surface analysis

Lehigh's Israel Wachs (PI) on the grant, with co-PIs Dr. Himanshu Jain and Dr. Jonas Baltrusaitis have acquired funds from NSF MRI to purchase environmental XPS for next generation surface analysis.

Virtual Special Issue in ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering journal

Dr. B. organized a Virtual Special Issue in ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering journal on sustainable NH3 production. More then 20 articles on the topic were presented.

Article on creating high N efficiency fertilizer materials published

Only 47% of the total fertilizer nitrogen applied to the environment is taken up by the plants whereas approximately 40% of the total fertilizer nitrogen lost to the environment reverts back into unreactive atmospheric dinitrogen that greatly affects the global nitrogen cycle including increased energy consumption for NH3 synthesis, as well as accumulation of nitrates in drinking water. In this letter, we provide a mechanochemical method of inorganic magnesium and calcium salt–urea ionic cocrystal synthesis to obtain enhanced stability nitrogen fertilizers.

Article Surface chemistry of MgO/SiO2 catalysts during the ethanol catalytic conversion to 1,3-butadiene: in situ DRIFTS and DFT study published

Article Surface chemistry of MgO/SiO2 catalysts during the ethanol catalytic conversion to 1,3-butadiene: in situ DRIFTS and DFT study published by William Taifan.

Dr. B. and collaborators awarded $712,600 NSF MRI grant to purchase state of the art environmental X-ray photoelectron spectometer

The team was awarded for a project entitled "MRI: Acquisition of an Advanced Integrated Environmental X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy/Optical Spectroscopy Instrument for Simultaneous Surface, Bulk and Gas/Liquid Phase" under the direction of Israel E. Wachs, Himanshu Jain, Jonas Baltrusaitis. The instrument will facilitate exploration of advanced functional materials possessing unique surfaces and interfaces that find widespread use, such as solar energy storage, biofuel production, water treatment, and medicine, all under operating conditions of gas and temperatures.

U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial 62/548,145 filed

U.S. provisional patent application serial #62/548,145, entitled: “Solvent-free Method of Producing Calcium and Magnesium Salt Adducts of Urea” was filed August 21, 2017 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. First Named Inventor: Jonas Baltrusaitis with contributions from students Kenny Honer and Jane McCan.

Presentation at 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Washington DC

Dr. B. attended and presented at American Chemical Society meeting in Washington DC:

1. Sarapajevaite, Gabriele; Navizaga, Criztel; Boecker, Jennifer; Baltakys, Kestutis; Baltrusaitis, Jonas, Recovery of major and micronutrients (N, P, S, Cu, Zn) from solid and liquid industrial waste and reuse in enhanced efficiency fertilizer production, 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Washington, DC, USA, August 20-24, 2017, ENVR-208.
2. Wang, Anqi; Sharma, Lohit; Yan, George X.; Ford, Michael; Wachs, Israel E.; Baltrusaitis, Jonas, Multimodal characterization of solid acid catalyst active sites for hydrocarbon upgrading, 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Washington, DC, USA, August 20-24, 2017, CATL-279.
3. Li, Bin; Zhu, Minghui; Jehng, Jih-Mirn; Wachs, Israel E.; Wu, Zili; Baltrusaitis, Jonas, K2O/WOx/Al2O3 catalyst structure for sour natural gas treatment, 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Washington, DC, USA, August 20-24, 2017, CATL-122.
4. Taifan, William; Baltrusaitis, Jonas, Catalytic conversion of bioethanol to 1,3-butadiene using bifunctional catalysts: The role of active sites via in situ spectroscopy, 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, Washington, DC, USA, August 20-24, 2017, CATL-98.

William Taifan is awarded with the inaugural John C. Chen Endowed Fellowship in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

William Taifan became a recipient of the inaugural John C. Chen Endowed Fellowship in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering for Spring 2018. The evaluation criteria used by the awards committee included a combination of publication history, research productivity, grades in courses taken, potential for future professional success, and/or scholarly/academic leadership. This fellowship was made possible through an endowment established by Dr. (Mrs.) Kathy Chen in honor of her late husband Professor John C. Chen.

Dr. B selected as one of the most highly prolific authors for ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal

Dr. B has been recognized as one of the most highly prolific authors for ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering on our Journal Stars website (http://journalstars.acs.org/). Please take a look at that journal’s page when you get a chance: http://journalstars.acs.org/applied/journal/acs-sustainable-chemistry-an...

Dr. B awarded a 3-year $450k NSF grant to investigate Oxidative Coupling of Methane

This research project addresses the direct catalytic conversion of methane, the primary component of natural gas, to value-added chemical feedstocks. In particular, the research provides fundamental insight into the mechanisms of how two methane molecules couple together to form various molecules with two carbon atoms, the OCM reaction. The project is built on the hypothesis that the active site for OCM by supported Mn/Na2WO4/SiO2 catalysts is an isolated surface WOx species anchored to the silica support. The investigators' preliminary studies have identified, for the first time, the presence of unpromoted and promoted isolated surface WOx sites during OCM that catalyze this reaction. The objectives of the project are to (1) establish the fundamental catalyst structure-activity relationships by application of modern in situ and operando spectroscopy during OCM combined with kinetic studies and density functional theory (DFT), and (2) apply the new fundamental insights to guide rational design of advanced active and selective OCM catalysts functioning at lower temperatures. This project is in collaboration with Prof. Israel Wachs at Lehigh University.

Work on struvite highlighted by Lehigh news

Struvite may not be a household word, but it is all too familiar to the operators of wastewater treatment plants. A crystalline mineral known chemically as magnesium ammonium phosphate hexahydrate, struvite occurs naturally in decomposing organic materials such as sludge from animal wastes and from treated wastewater. When it crystallizes on equipment surfaces in treatment plants, says Jonas Baltrusaitis, struvite can clog pipes, requiring them to be chemically cleaned or replaced and, in some cases, forcing a plant to be shut down. Baltrusaitis and his group have used advanced microscopy and spectroscopy techniques to study the formation of struvite crystals at the molecular level. Their work promises to lead to a cheaper, less energy-intensive conversion method and eventually to greater sustainability in wastewater treatment and in agriculture.
This work in the Baltrusaitis lab is supported by the newly funded National Science Foundation grant # 1710120 “INFEWS N/P/H2O: Chemical and structural transformations at low solubility magnesium mineral-wastewater interface during struvite formation and growth.”

New article on CH4 and H2S reforming to CH3SH and H2 catalyzed by metal promoted Mo6S8 cluster published

Direct processing of sour, e.g. containing large amounts of acidic H2S and or CO2 molecules, natural gas is of direct interest as vast amounts of it are available and accessible but are underutilized. While sour natural gas is still treated using energy intensive amine absorption/desorption, here we propose and describe a first step in catalytically producing value added chemical and energy carrier, CH3SH and H2, respectively. For this purpose we performed Density Functional Theory (DFT) and microkinetic modelling of CH4 and H2S reaction pathways to form CH3SH and H2 as a first step in elucidating complex yet not explored pathways in oxygen free sour gas reforming. For this purpose we utilized bare unpromoted and K- or Ni-promoted Mo6S8 clusters. This work is in collaboration with Anders Hellman at Chalmers University.

A new article on Efficiency evaluation of dairy wastewater derived zinc micronutrient containing sustainable fertilizers published

Recently synthesized, sustainable Zinc (Zn) fertilizers, derived using dairy wastewater and solid zinc containing waste (Zn-WWT), have been tested and their agricultural performance assessed utilizing field experimentation for wheat and maize growth. The data obtained have demonstrated that Zn-WWT achieved a Zn concentration increase in the green biomass at levels comparable to those delivered by conventional, water soluble Zn fertilizers, such as ZnSO4, low solubility ZnO and chelated Zn-EDTA. An increase in dry wheat mass yield obtained using Zn-WWT was statistically significant when compared with the control samples. Different from conventional Zn fertilizer sources, Zn-WWT contains significant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium and organic carbon, all derived from environmentally benign and sustainable sources, which benefit wheat and maize growth. The presence of these elements suggests a new way for improving waste utilization via nutrient recovery and supply to zinc deficient plants. While agrochemical performance varied among the plants tested as a function of zinc delivery sources, their solubility in water and application methods, only Zn-WWT represented a fully sustainable fertilizer that can be derived from solid and liquid waste to mimic chelation with the resulting slow release properties.

Dr. B awarded a 3-year $300k NSF grant to investigate surface chemistry during struvite formation

In this project funded by the Environmental Chemical Sciences program in the Division of Chemistry, Professor Jonas Baltrusaitis and his students study reactions of magnesium-containing, low solubility mineral surfaces with aqueous ammonium and phosphate ions from model wastewater streams. The goal is to develop new, highly efficient nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) immobilization routes for use of these minerals as slow release fertilizers. The project utilizes readily available magnesium-containing minerals (e.g., magnesium oxide, magnesium carbonate, dolomite and serpentinite) as substitutes for low abundance, high solubility magnesium chlorides and sulfates that are currently used.

Dr. B presented at the 21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference

Dr. B presented at the 21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference (GC&E) held in Reston, VA, June 13-15, 2017

1. C-C bond coupling reactions for catalytic (bio)ethanol transformation into 1,3-butadiene on Cu,Zn doped MgO heterogeneous catalysts (final paper number: 124)
2. Recovery of plant nutrients from waste streams: Transforming industrial waste into enhanced efficiency fertilizers (final paper number: 60)

new lab members Summer 2017

New members to the BaltrusaitisLab:
-Kenny Honer, Eren Kalfaoglu and Carlos Pico - Lehigh Summer Mountaintop project
-Gabriele Sarapajevaite - visiting Summer undergraduate from Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania
-Paige Rockwell - NSF REU student from Lycoming college, PA
-Jane McCann - NSF REU from Lehigh
-Yiying Sheng - Summer undergraduate student from Lehigh
-Dr. Baoying Lu - visiting scholar from Guangxi University of Science and Technology Medical College, China

BaltrusaitisLab members at annual BBQ

BaltrusaitisLab members we present for the annual Summer BBQ. The absolutely favorite picture was taken!

William Taifan presents at NAM'25

William presented a talk and a poster at 25th North American Meeting (NAM) of the Catalysis Society:
1. William Taifan, George Xu Yan and Jonas Baltrusaitis, Characterization of MgO/SiO2 catalyst surface: acidity, basicity and activity towards ethanol conversion to 1,3-butadiene, North American Catalysis Meeting, Denver, CO, June 2017 (talk).
2. William Taifan, George Xu Yan, Tomas Bucko and Jonas Baltrusaitis, Catalytic Reaction Mechanism of Ethanol Coupling to 1,3-Butadiene: Combined Experimental and Theoretical Study, North American Catalysis Meeting, Denver, CO, June 2017 (poster).

A minireview on direct catalytic conversion of sour natural gas published

William Taifan authored a minireview on the direct catalytic conversion of sour natural gas (CH4+H2S+CO2) components to high value chemicals and fuels

Dr. B. receives P.C. Rossin Assistant Professorship for 2017-2019

The Rossin Assistant Professorships are awarded to the most outstanding individuals in the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science who have demonstrated high potential for establishing a successful academic career at Lehigh through the integration of teaching and research.

Design and Control of a Cryogenic Multi-Stage Compression Refrigeration Process

This article is published with Nicole Johnson, Chemical Engineering senior at Lehigh and Prof. William Luyben

Baltrusaitis lab undergraduate researchers presented at David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium

Jennifer Boecker and Criztel Navizaga presented on Spectroscopic and Microscopic Identification of the Reaction Products and Intermediates during the Struvite Formation from Magnesium Oxide and Magnesium Carbonate Microparticles done in collaboration with Prof. Jennifer Schuttlefield-Christus from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

George "Xu" Yan presented on Combined theoretical and experimental study of ethanol to 1,3-butadiene over MgO/SiO2 in collaboration with Prof. Tomas Bucko from Comenius University in Bratislava


Baltrusaitis lab students attended and presented at The Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York 2017 Spring symposium

William Taifan presented a poster on Characterization of MgO/SiO2 catalyst surface: acidity, basicity and activity towards ethanol conversion to 1,3-butadiene

Anqi Wang presented a poster on Spectroscopic determination of the molecular structure of surface sulfate species on zirconia and their acidity

Bin Li presented a poster on Molecular structure of K2O-WO3/Al2O3 catalysts and interactions with carbon dioxide

Dr. B. attended DOE EFRC UNCAGE ME all hands meeting in Atlanta, Georgia

Baoying Lu who from Guangxi University joins the lab

Baoying Lu who is from Guangxi University joined the Baltrusaitislab as a visiting scholar. She has gained her doctor degree from TongJi University in physical chemistry and will perform research in methane catalytic oxidation process and the quantum mechanical simulations.

William Taifan defended his PhD dissertation proposal

William Taifan defended his PhD dissertation proposal focuses on ethanol catalytic conversion to 1,3-butadiene. Great job, Will!

Dr. B invited to serve on an Early Career Editorial Board of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal

ACS Sustainable Chemistry&Engineering welcomes 11 members of our inaugural Early Career Board (ECB). This ECB supplements our Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), with researchers who are launching their careers in green chemistry, green engineering, and sustainability. The ECB members are listed on the journal's masthead.

Catalytic conversion of ethanol to 1,3-butadiene on MgO: A comprehensive mechanism elucidation using DFT calculations manuscript published

This very important paper describes fundamental steps in ethanol transformation into 1,3-butadiene on MgO. William Taifan did an outstanding job in meticulously describing complete potential energy surface for the reaction elucidating rate limiting steps. Toussaint’s aldol condensation mechanism, Fripiat’s Prins mechanism and mechanism based on Ostromislensky’s hemiacetal rearrangement were investigated.This work is in collaboration with our great colleague Tomas Bucko from Comenius University in Bratislava and Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia. Very good job, Will!

Spectroscopic and Microscopic Identification of the Reaction Products and Intermediates During the Struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) Formation from Magnesium Oxide (MgO) and Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3) Microparticles

A new article published on using sustainable and abundant magnesium sources in the form of MgO and MgCO3 to recover nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater to produce sustainable fertilizers. In collaboration with University Wisconsin Oshkosh Prof. Jennifer Schuttlefield-Christus. This manuscript is addressing nitrogen management challenges and utilizes solid oxide and carbonate minerals rather than expensive water soluble magnesium salts.

Manuscript on properties of aqueous urea phosphate solutions published

Two Lehigh undergraduates, Criztel Navizaga and Jennifer Boecker, led the effort to evaluate phase and spectroscopic properties of urea phosphate solutions for sustainable nitrogen management. Nitrogen management is one of the 14 National Academy of Engineering challenges and we are addressing it by synthesizing urea fertilizers in the form of molecular adducts with inorganic acids. For the first time Raman spectroscopy revealed that even in aqueous solutions urea is coordinated to acid molecules.

members of BaltrusaitisLab presented at AIChE 2016 meeting, San Diego, CA

William Taifan presented on his work on Combined Experimental and Theoretical Study of Ethanol Catalytic Conversion to 1,3-Butadiene on MgO. Dr. B presented on Design and Properties of Supported Tungstate Catalysts for Oxidative Coupling of Methane (OCM) and K2O/WOx/Al2O3 Catalyst Interactions with the Components and Byproducts of Sour Natural Gas.

Paper "Surface chemistry of carbon dioxide revisited" published in Surface Science Reports

This review discusses modern developments in CO2 surface chemistry by focusing on the work published since the original review by H.J. Freund and M.W. Roberts two decades ago (Surface Science Reports 25 (1996) 225–273). It includes relevant fundamentals pertaining to the topics covered in that earlier review, such as conventional metal and metal oxide surfaces and CO2 interactions thereon. While UHV spectroscopy has routinely been applied for CO2 gas–solid interface analysis, the present work goes further by describing surface–CO2 interactions under elevated CO2 pressure on non-oxide surfaces, such as zeolites, sulfides, carbides and nitrides. Furthermore, it describes additional salient in situ techniques relevant to the resolution of the interfacial chemistry of CO2, notably infrared spectroscopy and state-of-the-art theoretical methods, currently used in the resolution of solid and soluble carbonate species in liquid–water vapor, liquid–solid and liquid–liquid interfaces. These techniques are directly relevant to fundamental, natural and technological settings, such as heterogeneous and environmental catalysis and CO2 sequestration.

William Taifan and Bin Li present posters at The Catalysis Club of Philadelphia meeting

William presented on Ethanol to 1,3-butadiene Reaction Mechanism: Combined DFT and Experimental Study, the work performed in collaboration with Tomas Bucko (Comenius University inf Bratislava, Slovak Republic).
Bin presented on Molecular structure of K2O-WO3/Al2O3 catalyst and reactivity towards acidic gases, the work performed in collaboration with Jih-Mirn Jehng and Israel Wachs (Lehigh University).

Lohit Sharma joins the group

Lohit Sharma joined Baltrusaitis lab to pursue his PhD in chemical engineering. Welcome Lohit!

Electrochemically Deposited Sb and in Doped Tin Sulfide (SnS) Photoelectrodes published

A joint project with UCSB looking for Earth abundant photoelectrode materials

XPS method development work highlighted by www.xpsfitting.com

BaltrusaitisLab work on refinery sulfur to fertilizers highlighted on Lehigh News

Paper "Generalized molybdenum oxide surface chemical state XPS determination via informed amorphous sample model" published in Applied Surface Science

An international collaboration including Neal Fairley from CasaXPS @ http://www.casaxps.com/. An important data processing method develop that avoids the pitfalls and biases of conventional peak fitting. You can access the full article free of charge untill January 20, 2015 at http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1QAApcXa~YFzo

William Taifan joined BaltrusaitisLab!

BaltrusaitisLab just welcomed first PhD student. Will joined the group and will be performing his PhD research in chemical engineering. Welcome!

Deposition, structure and properties of polyamide–CdSe–CdS composite material using sorption–diffusion method article published

A joint work with Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania, has been published in Applied Surface Science

Chemical Engineering Journal Top Cited Papers for 2011 and 2012

A paper in Chemical Engineering Journal from 2012 was recognized as a Top Cited Paper for 2011-2012. This work has been done while at the University of Iowa in Prof. Vicki Grassian group in collaboration with Prof. Jennifer Shuttlefield-Christus, currently at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Sustainable sulfur fertilizers highlighted in Lehigh University News

Recent article on sustainable sulfur fertilizers was reported in Lehigh University News

Paper "Liquid and solid compound granulated diurea sulfate based fertilizers for sustainable sulfur source" published

This paper concerns very important problem of sustainable elemental sulfur use. 60M tons of elemental sulfur is generated annually from oil and gas facilities and largely unused. We developed a process of returning it as a fertilizer

Paper "Polyamide–Thallium Selenide Composite Materials via Temperature and pH Controlled Adsorption-Diffusion Method" published in Applied Surface Science

Synthesizing and analyzing composite polymer-metal sulfide materials

Paper "Decomposition of 2-naphthol in water using a non-thermal plasma reactor" published in Chemical Engineering Journal

This paper describes our attempts to deal with shale oil contaminants, naphtenic acids, which also are present in large amounts in refineries and are unwanted since they partition in water. This is a collaborative effort with Martuzevicius research group at Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania.