Jurn Heinen runner-up in 2015 UvA Thesis Prize contest
Chemistry graduate Jurn Heinen has finished second in the competition for the UvA Thesis Prize 2015. At the UvA University Day on 6 June, Heinen won 2000 euro with his MSc thesis on the computational modeling of a catalytic alumina surface.
The jury praised Heinens thesis for its high scientific level, equal to the work of an experienced researcher. The importance of his research was recognised both because of the application of new methods and for the cooperation with industry.
Heinen, now a PhD student in the Computational Chemistry research group, performed his masters research with Albemarle, a global manufacturer of specialty chemicals. Amsterdam-Noord houses the R&D and production facilities of Albemarle's business in Hydroprocessing Catalysts (HPC). These catalysts are used extensively in oil refineries to remove sulfur and other contaminants (hydrotreating) as well as to convert heavy feedstocks into lighter, more valuable products.
With computational modeling Jurn Heinen contributed to a new approach in improving the performance of these catalysts where the γ-alumina surface of the catalyst is modified using dopants. Earlier experiments regarding the surface acidity of the doped γ-alumina as well as the effect on the hydrodesulfurization activity of the catalyst provided contradictory results.
With his thesis "Density Functional Theory Study of Modified γ-Alumina (110) Surface" Heinen provided new insights in the modified alumina surfaces using a quantum chemical approach. He performed, amongst others, so-called "plane wave" density functional theory (DFT) calculations to find stable geometries of modified γ-alumina (110) surfaces.