Understanding the fundamental relationships between the structure and composition of heterogeneous catalysts and their performance.
Professor Bell studies reaction mechanisms in order to identify factors limiting the activity and selectivity of catalysts. Reaction systems being investigated by his group include the synthesis of oxygenated compounds from COx (x = 1, 2), the conversion of alkanes to olefins and oxygenated products under oxidizing conditions, and the reduction of nitric oxide under oxidizing conditions. The objectives of his program are pursued through a combination of experimental and theoretical methods. Spectroscopic techniques, including IR, Raman, NMR, UV-Visible, and EXAFS, are used to characterize catalyst structure and adsorbed species under actual conditions of catalysis. Isotopic tracers and temperature-programmed desorption and reaction techniques are used to elucidate the pathways via which catalyzed reactions occur. Quantum chemical calculations are conducted to define the structure and energetics of adsorbed species and the pathways by which such species are transformed. The combined use of theory and experimental methods enables the attainment of a deeper understanding of the core issues of interest than can be achieved by the use of either approach alone.
Professor; Faculty Senior Scientist, LBNL; B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1964) Sc.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1967). Curtis W. McGraw Award for Research, American Association of Engineering Education; the Professional Progress and R. H. Wilhelm Awards, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis, Catalysis Society; National Academy of Engineering (1987) Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1988), the ACS Award for Creative Research in Homogeneous or Heterogeneous Catalysis, American Chemical Society (2001); Honorary Professor, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2001), William H. Walker Award of the AIChE (2005), Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007).