Deshlahra receives NSF CAREER Award

Assistant Professor Prashant Deshlahra received the prestigious grant award to further his research on catalyst performance.
Prashant Deshlahra

Assistant Professor Prashant Deshlahra of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has received a CAREER Award from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program supports outstanding early-career faculty with the potential to lead advances in research and serve as academic role models.

At Tufts School of Engineering, Deshlahra leads an experimental and computational catalysis research group working to develop better catalytic materials and processes for the clean and efficient production of fuels and chemicals. Catalysts are critical worldwide in chemical processes, and in order to make further advancements in catalyst technology, researchers must understand how the properties of a catalyst’s surface and that of the reacting molecules affect the catalyst’s performance.

In the proposal funded by the NSF, Deshlahra will study the catalytic reaction that synthesizes vinyl acetate, a high-value chemical used in consumer products such as furniture glue, and the precursor to an important industrial polymer called polyvinyl acetate. The project seeks to address limitations currently faced in the vinyl acetate manufacturing process and to develop more efficient catalysts through the use of dispersed precious metal atoms on inexpensive copper matrices.

The project will have wide applications in the field of catalysis and beyond. The analysis methods, catalyst characterization, and data generation used in the study, along with the insights garnered from vinyl acetate synthesis, will also apply to other catalytic reactions that, similarly, operate under high surface coverage conditions. Deshlahra plans to collaborate with local middle schools and high schools as well, incorporating educational outreach activities to engage young learners.

To learn more about the project and about Deshlahra’s research, visit the National Science Foundation and the Deshlahra Research Group.