Mesoporous Zeolites for Biomass-derived Jet Fuel Production

2020 Faculty Research Award

Award Period: 2020-2022

Michele Sarazen, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, will work on a process to produce jet fuel from plant biomass by synthesizing highly efficient catalysts known as mesoporous zeolites. While fuels such as gasoline have the potential to be replaced with electrification, jet fuel requires high energy densities beyond the capabilities of electricity. Zeolites are crystalline materials containing small, microporous channels that allow for stable chemical reactions and molecular conversions. When naturally occurring, however, these small channels can restrict molecular transport. Building on work by a graduate student in her research group, Sarazen seeks to create zeolite crystals with larger mesopores that would allow for the atom- and energy-efficient conversion of biomass to fuel with the energy density needed for jet applications. She also will explore how mesoporous zeolites can be extended to other useful reactions.

Educational Impact

Sarazen will recruit graduate and undergraduate student researchers for her project. She also will incorporate her research into the course she teaches, “Green and Catalytic Chemistry” as case studies for understanding sustainable and nontraditional catalytic conversions.

Michele Sarazen (in blue) in the lab with students.

Participating Departments


Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Graduate Students