Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Andrew P. Goodwin

Second Advisor

Jennifer N. Cha

Third Advisor

William Medlin

Fourth Advisor

Charles Musgrave

Fifth Advisor

Adam Holewinski


Utilizing solar driven photocatalysis to facilitate coupling reaction systems is a promising route for low-energy and selective production of valuable chemicals. My doctoral research has focused on using photocatalytic cadmium sulfide nanorods to run novel reaction systems under mild, ambient conditions with sunlight as the only energy source. In this dissertation, I will first describe a cascade reaction system for catalytic upgrading of the fermentation products butanol and ethanol into an easily separated product in 2-ethylhexenal with a higher energy density. Specifically, I will report the use of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, regeneration of the enzymatic cofactor by the photocatalyst, the aldol catalyst beta-alanine, and palladium nanoparticles for hydrogenation working in tandem to achieve the selective production of 2-ethylhexenal. In addition, I will report a sunlight-driven reaction system for wastewater purification and concurrent fuel production as a strategy to improve sustainability of the water-energy nexus. This section will demonstrate the flocculation of phenolic compounds while producing hydrogen gas using solar irradiation as the only energy source. The methods for physical and chemical characterization for analyzing these reaction systems and resulting product yields will be presented.