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Computational Modeling and Experimentation of Pervaporation Membrane Processes for Brackish Water Recovery

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Fresh water is essential to the human population and is an integral component in global economics for its multiple uses, and population growth/development cause concern for the possible exhaustion of the limited supply of freshwater. A combined computational and experimental

Fresh water is essential to the human population and is an integral component in global economics for its multiple uses, and population growth/development cause concern for the possible exhaustion of the limited supply of freshwater. A combined computational and experimental approach to observe and evaluate pervaporation membrane performance for brackish water recovery was done to assess its efficiency and practicality for real world application. Results from modeling conveyed accuracy to reported parameter values from literature as well as strong dependence of performance on input parameters such as temperature. Experimentation results showed improved performance in flux by 34%-42% with radiative effect and then additional performance improvement (9%-33%) with the photothermal effect from carbon black application. Future work will include improvements to the model to include scaling propensity and energy consumption as well as continued experimentation to assess quality of pervaporation in water recovery.

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2018-05

Heterogeneous Catalysis for Organic Reactions

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This honors thesis is focused on two separate catalysis projects conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez at ETH Zürich. The first project explored ethylene oxychlorination over supported europium oxychloride catalysts. The second project investigated alkyne semihydrogenation over nickel

This honors thesis is focused on two separate catalysis projects conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez at ETH Zürich. The first project explored ethylene oxychlorination over supported europium oxychloride catalysts. The second project investigated alkyne semihydrogenation over nickel phosphide catalysts. This work is the subject of a publication of which I am a co-author, as cited below.

Project 1 Abstract: Ethylene Oxychlorination
The current two-step process for the industrial process of vinyl chloride production involves CuCl2 catalyzed ethylene oxychlorination to ethylene dichloride followed by thermal cracking of the latter to vinyl chloride. To date, no industrial application of a one-step process is available. To close this gap, this work evaluates a wide range of self-prepared supported CeO2 and EuOCl catalysts for one-step production of vinyl chloride from ethylene in a fixed-bed reactor at 623 773 K and 1 bar using feed ratios of C2H4:HCl:O2:Ar:He = 3:3 6:1.5 6:3:82 89.5. Among all studied systems, CeO2/ZrO2 and CeO2/Zeolite MS show the highest activity but suffer from severe combustion of ethylene, forming COx, while 20 wt.% EuOCl/γ-Al2O3 leads to the best vinyl chloride selectivity of 87% at 15.6% C2H4 conversion with complete suppression of CO2 formation and only 4% selectivity to CO conversion for over 100 h on stream. Characterization by XRD and EDX mapping reveals that much of the Eu is present in non-active phases such as Al2Eu or EuAl4, indicating that alternative synthesis methods could be employed to better utilize the metal. A linear relationship between conversion and metal loading is found for this catalyst, indicating that always part of the used Eu is available as EuOCl, while the rest forms inactive europium aluminate species. Zeolite-supported EuOCl slightly outperforms EuOCl/γ Al2O3 in terms of total yield, but is prone to significant coking and is unstable. Even though a lot of Eu seems locked in inactive species on EuOCl/γ Al2O3, these results indicate possible savings of nearly 16,000 USD per kg of catalyst compared to a bulk EuOCl catalyst. These very promising findings constitute a crucial step for process intensification of polyvinyl chloride production and exploring the potential of supported EuOCl catalysts in industrially-relevant reactions.

Project 2 Abstract: Alkyne Semihydrogenation
Despite strongly suffering from poor noble metal utilization and a highly toxic selectivity modifier (Pb), the archetypal catalyst applied for the three-phase alkyne semihydrogenation, the Pb-doped Pd/CaCO3 (Lindlar catalyst), is still being utilized at industrial level. Inspired by the very recent strategies involving the modification of Pd with p-block elements (i.e., S), this work extrapolates the concept by preparing crystalline metal phosphides with controlled stoichiometry. To develop an affordable and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional hydrogenation catalysts, nickel, a metal belonging to the same group as Pd and capable of splitting molecular hydrogen has been selected. Herein, a simple two-step synthesis procedure involving nontoxic precursors was used to synthesize bulk nickel phosphides with different stoichiometries (Ni2P, Ni5P4, and Ni12P5) by controlling the P:Ni ratios. To uncover structural and surface features, this catalyst family is characterized with an array of methods including X-ray diffraction (XRD), 31P magic-angle nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS-NMR) spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Bulk-sensitive techniques prove the successful preparation of pure phases while XPS analysis unravels the facile passivation occurring at the NixPy surface that persists even after reductive treatment. To assess the characteristic surface fingerprints of these materials, Ar sputtering was carried out at different penetration depths, reveling the presence of Ni+ and P-species. Continuous-flow three-phase hydrogenations of short-chain acetylenic compounds display that the oxidized layer covering the surface is reduced under reaction conditions, as evidenced by the induction period before reaching the steady state performance. To assess the impact of the phosphidation treatment on catalytic performance, the catalysts were benchmarked against a commercial Ni/SiO2-Al2O3 sample. While Ni/SiO2-Al2O3 presents very low selectivity to the alkene (the selectivity is about 10% at full conversion) attributed to the well-known tendency of naked nickel nanoparticles to form hydrides, the performance of nickel phosphides is highly selective and independent of P:Ni ratio. In line with previous findings on PdxS, kinetic tests indicate the occurrence of a dual-site mechanism where the alkyne and hydrogen do not compete for the same site.

This work is the subject of a publication of which I am a co-author, as cited below.

D. Albani; K. Karajovic; B. Tata; Q. Li; S. Mitchell; N. López; J. Pérez-Ramírez. Ensemble Design in Nickel Phosphide Catalysts for Alkyne Semi-Hydrogenation. ChemCatChem 2019. doi.org/10.1002/cctc.201801430

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2019-05

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Model Membrane System to Determine Water Permeability of Linde Type A Zeolite

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In this research, construction of a model membrane system using Polyvinylidene Chloride-Co Acrylonitrile and Linde Type A zeolites is described. The systems aims to separate out flow through zeolite pores and flow through interfaces between zeolites and polymers through the

In this research, construction of a model membrane system using Polyvinylidene Chloride-Co Acrylonitrile and Linde Type A zeolites is described. The systems aims to separate out flow through zeolite pores and flow through interfaces between zeolites and polymers through the use of pore filled and pore open zeolites. Permeation tests and salt rejection tests were performed, and the data analyzed to yield approximation of separated flow through zeolites and interfaces. This work concludes the more work is required to bring the model system into a functioning state. New polymer selections and new techniques to produce the membrane system are described for future work.

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2014-05

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Experiments in Science Education: How In-Classroom Demonstrations and Hands-On Activities Affect Student Interest in Science and Engineering

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This thesis aims to evaluate how in classroom demonstrations compare to regular education techniques, and how student learning styles affect interest in science and engineering as future fields of study. Science education varies between classrooms, but usually is geared towards

This thesis aims to evaluate how in classroom demonstrations compare to regular education techniques, and how student learning styles affect interest in science and engineering as future fields of study. Science education varies between classrooms, but usually is geared towards lecture and preparation for standardized exams without concern for student interest or enjoyment.5 To discover the effectiveness of demonstrations in these concerns, an in classroom demonstration with a water filtration experiment was accompanied by several modules and followed by a short survey. Hypotheses tested included that students would enjoy the demonstration more than a typical class session, and that of these students, those with more visual or tactile learning styles would identify with science or engineering as a possible major in college. The survey results affirmed the first hypothesis, but disproved the second hypothesis; thus illustrating that demonstrations are enjoyable, and beneficial for sparking or maintaining student interest in science across all types of students.

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2014-05

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Multivariable Analysis for Irrigation with Gray Water, Impact of Turbidity and Organic Content in Gray Water on Bacterial Inactivation

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The impact of physical/chemical properties of gray water on microbial inactivation in gray water using chlorine was investigated through creating artificial gray water in lab, varying specific components, and then measuring microbial inactivation. Gray water was made through taking autoclaved

The impact of physical/chemical properties of gray water on microbial inactivation in gray water using chlorine was investigated through creating artificial gray water in lab, varying specific components, and then measuring microbial inactivation. Gray water was made through taking autoclaved nanopure water, and increasing the concentration of surfacants, the turbidity, the concentration of organic content, and spiking E. coli grown in tryptic soy broth (TSB); chlorine was introduced using Clorox Disinfecting Bleach2. Bacteria was detected using tryptic soy agar (TSA), and E. coli was specifically detected using the selective media, brilliance. The log inactivation of bacteria detected using TSA was shown to be inversely related to the turbidity of the solution. Complete inactivation of E. coli concentrations between 104-105 CFU/100 ml in gray water with turbidities between 10-100 NTU, 0.1-0.5 mg/L of humic acid, and 0.1 ml of Dawn Ultra, was shown to occur, as detected by brilliance, at chlorine concentrations of 1-2 mg/L within 30 seconds. These result in concentration time (CT) values between 0.5-1 mg/L·min. Under the same gray water conditions, and an E. coli concentration of 104 CFU/100 ml and a chlorine concentration of 0.01 mg/L, complete inactivation was shown to occur in all trials within two minutes. These result in CT values ranging from 0.005 to 0.02. The turbidity and humic acid concentration were shown to be inversely related to the log inactivation and directly related to the CT value. This study shows that chlorination is a valid method of treatment of gray water for certain irrigation reuses.

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2020-05

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A People’s History of West Valley Phoenix: Unwritten not Untold

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The outlying cities of Phoenix's West Metropolitan experienced rapid growth in the past ten years. This trend is only going to continue with an average expected growth of 449-891% between 2000 and 2035 (ADOT, 2012). Phoenix is not new to

The outlying cities of Phoenix's West Metropolitan experienced rapid growth in the past ten years. This trend is only going to continue with an average expected growth of 449-891% between 2000 and 2035 (ADOT, 2012). Phoenix is not new to growth and has consistently seen swaths of people added to its population. This raises the question of what happened to the people who lived in Phoenix's West Valley during this period of rapid change and growth in their communities? What are their stories and what do their stories reveal about the broader public history of change in Phoenix's West Valley? In consideration of these questions, the community oral histories of eight residents from the West Valley were collected to add historical nuance to the limited archival records available in the area. From this collection, the previous notion of "post-war boomtowns” describing Phoenix’s West Valley was revealed to be highly inaccurate and dismissive of the residents' experiences who lived and formed their lives there.

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2022-05