The Catalysis & Nanomaterials Laboratory

The Catalysis and Nanomaterials Laboratory, directed by Professor Michael S. Wong, is located in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University, Houston, TX. Our research program broadly addresses engineering problems using the tools of materials chemistry. We work in the thematic area of nanotechnology and currently in the application areas of energy (chemicals production from oil/gas and biomass), downhole oil detection and enhanced recovery, photovoltaics, rechargeable batteries, and the environment (water cleanup, green chemistry). In collaboration with researchers from UT El Paso, ASU, and Yale in the NEWT Center, we develop new scientific understanding and nano-enabled engineering solutions to treat contaminated water in a fit-for-purpose manner. We develop and apply materials synthesis techniques to understand better how structure affects the catalytic properties of a nanomaterial. How can we design solid catalysts that enable the sustainable use and management of our natural resources?

Our Research.

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PFAS Destruction
Nitrate/Nitrite Reduction
Produced Water Treatment for Reuse & Recycle
Catalysis for Water Clean-Up
Oil Recovery & Devosification
Biomass Upgrading
Nanomaterials Synthesis
Catalyst Design & Optimization

Recent News.

Congrats to Tanya (co-advised with Prof. Verduzco) on her first-author paper on catalytic CDI flow reactor to tackle the nitrate problem! September 17, 2021
The first work from a ASU-Rice collaboration on catalytic reduction of PFAS! September 9, 2021
In recognition of Chris's research, education, and outreach achievements in support of the NEWT Center, he as been selected as a 2021 NEWT Fellow! August 1, 2021
Congratulations to Mr. Juan Donoso for successfully defending his MS thesis work, Performance Modeling of Hydrogen-Based Membrane Palladium-Film Reactors! July 19, 2021
Austin's contributions to improved halide perovskite thin-film synthesis are published! Big team effort led by Aditya Mohite (Rice) and J-C Blancon. June 21, 2021
Chelsea received the most outstanding engineering thesis award this year! June 15, 2021
We welcome our newest Post-Doctoral Researcher, Wenqing Zhang, to the group! June 14, 2021
We are happy to have contributed to the electrocatalytic nitrate reduction to ammonia, led by the groups of Haotian Wang (Rice) and Samira Siahrostami (Calgary)! May 17, 2021
We are so happy to celebrate the PhD degrees of Drs. Chelsea Clark, Sujin Guo, and Yan Xu at the 108th Commencement Ceremony! May 15, 2021
Prof. Wong received the Presidential Award for Mentoring this year - congratulations! April 20, 2021
The student team “PFAS and PFurious” (advised by Prof. Wong and teaching assistant Josh Samba) took four prizes, including first place, in this year’s 31st WERC Environmental Design Contest. Congratulations! April 16, 2021
Prof. Wong was selected as a recipient of the inaugural D&I Faculty/Staff Recognition Award by the NEWT Center March 30, 2021
Dr. Xu's work on heavy oil viscosity reduction is available online - Great work Yan! March 12, 2021
Dr. Powell's latest work on radiofrequency heating has been published - Congratulations Camilah! March 11, 2021
We are so proud of Josh Samba, chosen as a 2021 Hertz Fellowship Finalist! February 4, 2021
We are so pleased to announce that Yan successfully defended her PhD thesis work, Understanding Heavy Oil Viscosity Reduction Chemistry Using Metal-Ligand Compounds! January 25, 2021
We welcome our newest MChE student, Rhea Nargund, to the group! January 4, 2021
The 2019 Best Fundamental Paper Award was given to the Wong-Henkelman collaboration for "Design of a Pd−Au Nitrite Reduction Catalyst by Identifying and Optimizing Active Ensembles" by the South Texas Section of AIChE. Congratulations! December 15, 2020
Congratulations to Dr. Chelsea Clark! She impressed her comittee members with a fantastic thesis defense titled, Rh-Based Catalysis Chemistry of Aqueous-Phase Nitrogen Treatment Reactions. November 24, 2020
ACS recognizes Wong, Alvarez for work on fracking byproduct 'produced water' November 9, 2020
We wish a fond farewell to two of our visiting scholars, Ms. Lijie Duan and Dr. Yongchao Li. We wish them both the best and are grateful for their contributions to the group! September 17, 2020
Leading a team of researchers from UT El Paso, Yale, ASU, and Rice, Dr. Camilah Powell quantified the magnetic and aresenic adsorption propertoes of carbon-coated iron carbide. The paper is out! September 12, 2020
Very nice work by Sujin (with Camilah and Prof. Dino Villagran) on developing magnetically responsive nitrate reduction catalysts, published in ES Nano! August 25, 2020
Congratulations to Dr. Sujin Guo, for successfully defending her Environmental Engineering Ph.D. thesis dissertation on Advanced Reduction of Nitrogen-Oxyanions Using Precious Metal-Based Model Catalyst! July 16, 2020
We are happy to contribute to an international study on nanostructured materials and engineering needs for electrochemical treatment of water! June 19, 2020
Congratulations to Bo and Lijie for publishing their work on the photocatalytic degradation of PFOA. June 14, 2020
Nice work on graphene oxide/MOF magnetic adsorbents for brackish water treatment! Collaboration with Julie Zimmerman and Jorge Gardea-Torresday, led by Dino Villagran's group. June 10, 2020
We are very excited to welcome the two newest members to the group: Mr. Joshua Samba (Ph.D. student in Applied Physics) and Mr. Kiheon Hong (Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering)! June 1, 2020
Congrats to Welman and Kim, who published their paper on indium-decorated Pd nanocubes for no-ammonia nitrate reduction! May 28, 2020
Thanks to a new Rice University COVID-19 research grant, we will now work with the Verduzco group and NASA on new ventilator technology! May 26, 2020
Shengqi (Peter) Hang was selected to receive the Dr. Zevi & Bertha Salsburg Memorial Fellowship from the Department of Chemistry - Congratulations! May 18, 2020
We are so happy to celebrate the advanced degrees of four group members (2 PhDs, 1 MS, 1 MChE) at the 107th Commencement Ceremony! May 16, 2020
Ben and Chris' latest work on the catalytic treatment of high-salinity produced water has just been published. May 8, 2020
First collaboration with Meny Elimelech and his research group! May 1, 2020
Yan's latest work on heavy oil viscosity reduction has just been published in Fuel. Congratulations to Yan and her team! April 18, 2020
The Rice Engineering Alumni (REA) has awarded Tanya with a Graduate Student Travel Grant to support her travel to the International Conference on Environmental Systems to present her work on water treatment in space. Thank you, REA! April 17, 2020
Two publications from the group have been selected for the "Best Papers 2019" Collection by Environmental Science: Nano as part of the Enviornmental Science Best Papers Initiative by the Royal Society of Chemistry. April 16, 2020
Chris has been awarded with a Graduate Student Travel Grant by the Rice Engineering Alumni (REA) to support his travel to the Permian Basin Water in Energy Conference. Congratulations Chris, and thank you to the REA! April 6, 2020
Chris has been selected to recieve a travel award to the 17th International Congress on Catalysis. Congratulations Chris! March 13, 2020
Our most recent collaborative work has been published! Here, we highlight the discrepancies between typical lab-scale experiments and real waters for environmental water treatment applications. Nice work Tanya and Chris! March 5, 2020
A new paper about using table salt to synthesize chemicals from sugars! March 3, 2020
Camilah led a three-university team to study the engineering parameters of a Fe3O4-based arsenic treatment unit. Her MagNERD paper is published! February 12, 2020
Dr. Wong receives the 2019 Southwest Region American Chemical Society Award for his “meritorious contributions to the advancement of chemistry, chemical engineering, chemical education, either pure or applied, to the profession in general.” February 5, 2020
Dr. Wong begins his term as a Councilor for the American Chemical Society, representing the CATL Division January 2020
Congratulations Dr. Powell! Camilah successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis dissertation on Development of Non-Conventional Iron-Based Nanomaterials for Water Treatment. January 15, 2020
Chris' work on fit-for-purpose treatment options for produced water in shale oil and gas fields is an outstanding collaboration between academia and industry. It is now published! January 13, 2020

News Archive