Sunday afternoon VES students can often be found in the chemistry lab gaining hands-on experience and mastering fundamental techniques such as titrations and pipetting. Simultaneously, they are delving into the intricacies of reaction kinetics, building a strong foundation of chemistry knowledge needed for almost any area of chemistry research.
Dr. Pollock and a group of VES students have joined forces with her Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Brian Frederick, and his students at the University of Maine, Orono. Dr. Frederick’s research group is interested in photocatalysis, shining light on a reaction to make it go. Photocatalysis has the potential to address critical environmental challenges such as breaking down chemical pollutants in water supplies, providing a sustainable approach to water purification. Interest also lies in the petrochemical industry, where methane is often flared off as a waste product, photocatalysis offers the promise of converting this valuable resource into useful chemicals like methanol.
VES students will soon transition from learning basic skills to the core of the research project, screening catalysts for activity to send to UMaine for further investigation. Students will assess the efficiency of various catalysts in decomposing both methyl orange and peroxide. To accomplish this they will colorimeters to determine reaction rates for the decomposition of methyl orange. Additionally, iodometric titrations will be performed to precisely measure residual peroxide concentrations. The research project currently doesn’t have an end date and any student who has taken chemistry can join in on the research. Thank you to Dr. Pollock for organizing this learning opportunity for our students!