Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Mechanical Engineering

Second Department


First Advisor

Ann Anderson

Second Advisor

Mary Carroll




aerogels, kinetic, carbon, platinum


As pollution becomes an increasing concern globally, strict regulations have been set on vehicle pollutant emissions. The three-way catalytic converter is capable of converting toxic emissions such as carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides to less hazardous waste such as carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen. Current catalysts employ platinum group metals, which are expensive and environmentally damaging to mine. Catalytically-active aerogels such as Co-Al, Cu-Al and V-Al aerogels have shown promise as alternatives to these metals. The work presented here adapts and extends a global kinetic model which predicts the conversion of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide on platinum catalyst surfaces. In this thesis, the kinetic model was constructed in MATLAB and used to predict conversion of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide using kinetic parameters for platinum. The predicted conversion values produced a good fit to experimental data for both hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. This model was then applied to catalytically-active Co-Al aerogels. Oxidation reactions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons were simulated using kinetic parameters for platinum. Experimental data collected for catalytically-active Co-Al aerogels was then used to optimize these parameters. The robustness of a genetic algorithm technique for calculating kinetic parameters was achieved by optimizing all kinetic parameters in the original platinum model based solely on experimental data. The optimized values produced are in very good agreement with literature values for platinum. When applied to experimental data for Co-Al aerogels, the optimized models have a fair agreement. More data relating ii conversion to space velocity are needed to provide a better understanding of the specific reaction mechanisms and reaction rates for catalytically-active aerogels. Once these models are able to accurately describe kinetic aspects of catalytic reactions, they will be used to predict catalytic results for Co-Al aerogels for untested experimental conditions.