James Applegate

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering

First Advisor

Bakrania, Smitesh


Combustion; Catalysis


Mechanical Engineering


Catalytic combustion's ability to release the potential energy of high energy density fuels could transform the portable electronic device market by removing the reliance on batteries. Catalytic combustion is a generally well understood combustion technique, but the effects of specific experimental conditions (catalyst loading, flow rates and substrates) on catalyst performance are not as well known. Systhesized catalytic Pt nonoparticles (dp ~ 11.6 nm) were dispersed on a cordierite substrate and were characterized using TEM, XRD and SEM. Experimental results were obtained in a miniature-scale continuous flow reactor. Subsequent studies report the effect catalyst loading and reactor flow parameters have on operational temperatures and methanol conversion rates. Repeat tests were performed to assess the stability of the catalyst and the extent of deactivation, if any, that occurred due to restructuring and sintering of the particles. SEM characterization studies performed on the post-reaction catalysts following repeat tests at reasonably high operating temperatures (~ 500 oC corresponding to ~ 0.3Tm for bulk platinum) showed evidence of sintering, yet the associated loss of surface area had minimal effect on the overall catalyst activity, as determined from bulk temperature measurements. Gas chromatography measurements show methanol conversion rates up to 70%. A potential application of this work is for improving catalytic devices including microscale reactors.