Welcome to Catalysis for A Sustainable Environment

The CSE group consists of faculty and students in Columbia University's Earth and Environmental Engineering department. Our research interests vary widely, from hydrogen generation for fuel cells to synthetic natural gas, but every project is united by the goal of improving our planet with sustainable catalysis engineering.

Catalysis for A Sustainable Environment: Philosophy

We are committed to applied and fundamental research to enhance the world’s environment. Our research activities address critical issues of importance to a sustainable future including clean air, alternative energy sources such as materials for the hydrogen economy and managing green-house gases by capture and conversion to useful products.

Fossil fuels will continue to be a primary source of energy whereby their combustion contributes to global warming via CO2 production. We have developed a dual function material (DFM) containing an adsorbent and catalyst that capturing CO2 from flue gas and with the addition of renewable H2 from water electrolysis via (solar, wind, etc.) catalytically converts it to synthetic natural gas (CH4). This minimizes emissions of CO2, generates re usable CH4 fuel thereby deceasing the need for extracting natural gas from the earth, while using excess renewable energy. The DFM is positioned in the flue gas exhaust at one single temperature capturing CO2 and catalytic converting it to CH4 which is recycled to the front end of the plant closing the carbon balance. Process scale up studies are in progress.

We seek clean air via catalytic pollution abatement using heterogeneous supported catalysts. Applications in emission control from vehicles and stationary sources are a primary focus. We seek cost effective catalytic materials with sustained life to reduce emissions of toxic gases.

We develop new catalysts and cost effective processes to convert infrastructure fuels (natural gas, ethanol and sulfur-containing liquid fuels) to generate hydrogen for the emerging hydrogen economy. This technology will serve as a temporary solution while renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind are being developed.

Professor Dr. Robert (Bob) Farrauto

Professor of Practice and Principle Investigator

Farrauto focuses on technical applications directed towards solving environmental problems. His research is both applied and fundamental and is focused on world needs. His research, sponsored by the Department of Energy and several industrial companies, allows his students to see catalysis applied to problem solving. His most recent research applies dual function materials (DFM) for selectively capturing CO2 from ambient air and/or power plant effluents and catalytic conversion to methane for chemical feedstocks and renewable natural gas thereby decreasing green-house gas emissions. This decreases the need for fracking to extract additional new carbon from the earth while utilizing waste hydrogen and/or hydrogen generated by water electrolysis from excess renewable energy, such as solar and/or wind. He has also developed a new process for decreasing methane emissions from natural gas fueled vehicles using novel technology. The mechanism and in situ regeneration of deactivated three-way gasoline automobile catalysts has been reported in numerous publications. His industrial research has led to new commercial catalysts and compact reactor designs for the future hydrogen economy utilizing fuel cells.

Farrauto received his BS in chemistry from Manhattan College in 1964, and his PhD in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1968. He spent 44 years in the catalytic industry (1968-2012) and has developed a number of commercial products. He holds 60 U.S. patents and his research has appeared in 137 peer-reviewed publications. After retiring from BASF as a Vice President of Research, he has been Professor of Practice in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia Engineering since 2012. He is the 2016 recipient of the Columbia Alumni Teaching Award based on graduate and undergraduate teaching. He is a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors, and has received numerous awards in catalysis.

Catalysis for a Sustainable Environment
Earth and Environmental Engineering
Columbia University in the City of New York
927 S.W. Mudd
500 W. 120th Street
New York, New York, 10027
: Robert Farrauto rf2182@columbia.edu
: Main office 212-854-6390
: Mobile 732-829-7127

Last updated: 06-05-2021