Allena Nguyen

Research Assistant (Co-Op) at AFCC
Executive at UBC Undergraduate Chemistry Society

I am a highly motivated third year UBC chemistry co-op student with strong interests in materials chemistry, nanotechnology, and climate change. Ultimately, I am hoping to research and develop products and technology that contribute to climate mitigation.

I am currently working as a research assistant at AFCC, and am involved with developing and performing experiments to design and characterize anode catalyst inks for PEM fuel cells.

More About Me

I am a highly motivated third year UBC chemistry co-op student with strong interests in materials chemistry, nanotechnology, and climate change. Ultimately, I am hoping to research and develop products and technology that contribute to climate mitigation.

I am currently working as a research assistant at AFCC, and am involved with developing and performing experiments to design and characterize anode catalyst inks for PEM fuel cells.

You can contact me at allenanguyen@gmail.com

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How Nanoscience and Nanocatalysis Can Contribute to Green Chemistry

Using nanocatalysis in green chemistry is of increasing interest due to the possibility of creating economically beneficial processes (e.g. increasing the recovery and reusability of expensive precious metal catalysts including platinum). Below is an excerpt from Nanocatalysis: Academic Discipline and Industrial Realities, which selects a number of principles from the 12 principles of green chemistry, showing how nanocatalysts can contribute to achieving them.

"It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed" (principle #2)

Nanocatalysts help to increase selectivites (compared to conventional reactions).

"Wherever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment" (principle #3)

Using nanocatalytic processes, organic solvents can be replaced by water.

"Synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure" (principle #6)

For numerous chemical processes, harsh reaction conditions can be avoided by employing nanocatalysts, as, for example, in the hydrolysis of esters.

"Unnecessary derivation (blocking group, protection/deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be avoided whenever possible" (principle #8).

Nanocatalysts have the potential to open direct reaction paths that were unachievable using traditional methods, such as in the synthesis of H2O2.

"Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents" (principle #9)”

An example involving nanocatalysts includes the advancement of the well-known Friedel-Crafts reaction by the introduction of a nanosized zeolite catalyst.

"Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen so as to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires" (principle #12).

Nanocatalysts can make an important contribution, like in safer oxidation processes for organic molecules.

Sandro Olveira, Simon P. Forster, and Stefan Seeger, “Nanocatalysis: Academic Discipline and Industrial Realities,” Journal of Nanotechnology, vol. 2014, Article ID 324089, 19 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/324089

Nanocatalysis: Academic Discipline and Industrial Realities
Ultimately, I would like my chemistry career to involve nanotechnology with applications toward green chemistry. However, nanotechnology, a growing field (as seen in the image above (top)*), is a field that admittedly, I’m not too knowledgeable about. Fortunately, I stumbled across what I think is a fantastic article in the Journal of Nanotechnology, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, that does a great job of introducing nanoscience, with a focus on nanocatalysis, and its applications in both academia and industry. Interestingly, the paper not only focuses on scientific publications relating to nanotechnology, but also gives an economic and industrial perspective surrounding the field. I’d highly recommend reading this article (that is free to read) if you’d like to be introduced to nanotechnology, gaining a better understanding of the roles nanotechnology play in academic research and industry.
Nanoscience is the study of materials at the nanometer (1 nanometer = 10-9 metre) length scale. Nanotechnology draws from the beneficial aspects of homogeneous (e.g. highly selective reactions, high activity, and excellent yield) and heterogeneous catalyses (e.g. improved products separation and catalyst recovery). An optimal nanocatalyst is considered to be material that exhibits “superior performance” in selectivity, activity, durability, and recoverability, all of which are influenced by catalyst size, shape, and surface composition. Generally, nanocatalysts are synthesized top-down (i.e. break bulk material down into smaller particles) or bottom-up (i.e. forming nanocatalysts by “reaction or agglomeration of suitable starting molecules”).
Some future applications of nanocatalysts, as suggested by Olveira et al., include playing a crucial role in the synthesis of widely used organic compounds, in the ‘H2 economy,’ in oil refining, in pollution control, and in biological nanosensor applications. However, the amount of interest industrial companies have in nanocatalysts is still questionable. Olveira et al. analyzed over 1,500 nanocatalysis-related patents and determined that there are six major industrial application fields (figure above (bottom)*) for nanocatalysts: combustion (13%), fuel cell/electrochemistry (13%), hydrocarbon processing/cracking (23%), templating (13%), various chemical processes (23%), and an unspecified category (15%).
Figure above (top): “Development of the number of publications per year in the field of nanotechnology since 1987 (based on a research on Thomson Reuters’ Web of Knowledge database; http://www.webofknowledge.com/ last visited 16.01.2013 the value for 2012 is likely to increase as not all 2012 papers are already published online).”
Figure above (bottom): “Application fields of patents related to nanocatalysis (based on a research on the US Patent and Trademark Office Patent Database (http://patft.uspto.gov/) applying the working definition stated in the beginning of this review).”
 Sandro Olveira, Simon P. Forster, and Stefan Seeger, “Nanocatalysis: Academic Discipline and Industrial Realities,” Journal of Nanotechnology, vol. 2014, Article ID 324089, 19 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/324089
Zoom Info
Nanocatalysis: Academic Discipline and Industrial Realities
Ultimately, I would like my chemistry career to involve nanotechnology with applications toward green chemistry. However, nanotechnology, a growing field (as seen in the image above (top)*), is a field that admittedly, I’m not too knowledgeable about. Fortunately, I stumbled across what I think is a fantastic article in the Journal of Nanotechnology, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, that does a great job of introducing nanoscience, with a focus on nanocatalysis, and its applications in both academia and industry. Interestingly, the paper not only focuses on scientific publications relating to nanotechnology, but also gives an economic and industrial perspective surrounding the field. I’d highly recommend reading this article (that is free to read) if you’d like to be introduced to nanotechnology, gaining a better understanding of the roles nanotechnology play in academic research and industry.
Nanoscience is the study of materials at the nanometer (1 nanometer = 10-9 metre) length scale. Nanotechnology draws from the beneficial aspects of homogeneous (e.g. highly selective reactions, high activity, and excellent yield) and heterogeneous catalyses (e.g. improved products separation and catalyst recovery). An optimal nanocatalyst is considered to be material that exhibits “superior performance” in selectivity, activity, durability, and recoverability, all of which are influenced by catalyst size, shape, and surface composition. Generally, nanocatalysts are synthesized top-down (i.e. break bulk material down into smaller particles) or bottom-up (i.e. forming nanocatalysts by “reaction or agglomeration of suitable starting molecules”).
Some future applications of nanocatalysts, as suggested by Olveira et al., include playing a crucial role in the synthesis of widely used organic compounds, in the ‘H2 economy,’ in oil refining, in pollution control, and in biological nanosensor applications. However, the amount of interest industrial companies have in nanocatalysts is still questionable. Olveira et al. analyzed over 1,500 nanocatalysis-related patents and determined that there are six major industrial application fields (figure above (bottom)*) for nanocatalysts: combustion (13%), fuel cell/electrochemistry (13%), hydrocarbon processing/cracking (23%), templating (13%), various chemical processes (23%), and an unspecified category (15%).
Figure above (top): “Development of the number of publications per year in the field of nanotechnology since 1987 (based on a research on Thomson Reuters’ Web of Knowledge database; http://www.webofknowledge.com/ last visited 16.01.2013 the value for 2012 is likely to increase as not all 2012 papers are already published online).”
Figure above (bottom): “Application fields of patents related to nanocatalysis (based on a research on the US Patent and Trademark Office Patent Database (http://patft.uspto.gov/) applying the working definition stated in the beginning of this review).”
 Sandro Olveira, Simon P. Forster, and Stefan Seeger, “Nanocatalysis: Academic Discipline and Industrial Realities,” Journal of Nanotechnology, vol. 2014, Article ID 324089, 19 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/324089
Zoom Info

Nanocatalysis: Academic Discipline and Industrial Realities

Ultimately, I would like my chemistry career to involve nanotechnology with applications toward green chemistry. However, nanotechnology, a growing field (as seen in the image above (top)*), is a field that admittedly, I’m not too knowledgeable about. Fortunately, I stumbled across what I think is a fantastic article in the Journal of Nanotechnology, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, that does a great job of introducing nanoscience, with a focus on nanocatalysis, and its applications in both academia and industry. Interestingly, the paper not only focuses on scientific publications relating to nanotechnology, but also gives an economic and industrial perspective surrounding the field. I’d highly recommend reading this article (that is free to read) if you’d like to be introduced to nanotechnology, gaining a better understanding of the roles nanotechnology play in academic research and industry.

Nanoscience is the study of materials at the nanometer (1 nanometer = 10-9 metre) length scale. Nanotechnology draws from the beneficial aspects of homogeneous (e.g. highly selective reactions, high activity, and excellent yield) and heterogeneous catalyses (e.g. improved products separation and catalyst recovery). An optimal nanocatalyst is considered to be material that exhibits “superior performance” in selectivity, activity, durability, and recoverability, all of which are influenced by catalyst size, shape, and surface composition. Generally, nanocatalysts are synthesized top-down (i.e. break bulk material down into smaller particles) or bottom-up (i.e. forming nanocatalysts by “reaction or agglomeration of suitable starting molecules”).

Some future applications of nanocatalysts, as suggested by Olveira et al., include playing a crucial role in the synthesis of widely used organic compounds, in the ‘H2 economy,’ in oil refining, in pollution control, and in biological nanosensor applications. However, the amount of interest industrial companies have in nanocatalysts is still questionable. Olveira et al. analyzed over 1,500 nanocatalysis-related patents and determined that there are six major industrial application fields (figure above (bottom)*) for nanocatalysts: combustion (13%), fuel cell/electrochemistry (13%), hydrocarbon processing/cracking (23%), templating (13%), various chemical processes (23%), and an unspecified category (15%).

Figure above (top): “Development of the number of publications per year in the field of nanotechnology since 1987 (based on a research on Thomson Reuters’ Web of Knowledge database; http://www.webofknowledge.com/ last visited 16.01.2013 the value for 2012 is likely to increase as not all 2012 papers are already published online).”

Figure above (bottom): “Application fields of patents related to nanocatalysis (based on a research on the US Patent and Trademark Office Patent Database (http://patft.uspto.gov/) applying the working definition stated in the beginning of this review).”


Sandro Olveira, Simon P. Forster, and Stefan Seeger, “Nanocatalysis: Academic Discipline and Industrial Realities,” Journal of Nanotechnology, vol. 2014, Article ID 324089, 19 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/324089

mj-the-scientist:

astrodidact:

via All Science, All the Time

Stars are colossal fusion reactors, burning hydrogen into helium. As the nuclei fuse lighter elements into heavier elements, massive amounts of energy are released. A new game sets you the task of nucleosynthesis, building hydrogen into iron, and it’s surprisingly fun.

"The game is a stellar variant of 2048, where you fuse elements together along the reaction pathways that power stars." (Read: you’ll never get another thing done)

Play it here: http://newbrict.github.io/Fe26/

http://space.io9.com/stellar-fusion-is-shockingly-addictive-1564152075

This is wonderfully addictive.

I’m a fan!

Reevaluating Risk(s) of NPs?

Nanotechnology is undoubtedly a growing area of research. However, while the use of nano particles (NPs) in various goods is becoming more common, the amount of regulation on the use of these NPs fails to keep up. With an increased use of these NPs comes an increased concentration of NPs being released into the environment. As a result, the interactions between NPs and the environment (e.g. in the presence of natural organic matter (NOM)) need to be questioned.

As an example, Loosli et al. investigated TiO2, the most abundantly produced NPs, and its interactions with aquatic organisms. While Loosli et al. recognized that agglomerated NPs pose a smaller threat, in terms of toxicity, to the environment, Loosli et al. point out that NOM may disperse these NPs, thus potentially increasing their toxicity. Loosli et al. specifically looked at TiO2 NPs in the presence of alginate (found in the cell walls of brown seaweed) and Suwannee River humid acids (both at typical environmental concentrations). As predicted, Loosli et al. found that NOM promoted the disagglomeration of the TiO2 NPs. As a result, Loosli et al. suggest that the risk and hazards of nano material assembles be reevaluated.

Photo courtesy of UCLA.


Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2014,1, 154-160
DOI: 10.1039/C3EN00061C

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