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University of Balamand > News > Archive > Another Balamand PhD in Chemistry

Another Balamand PhD in Chemistry

Jihane ABOU RACHED was awarded a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Balamand (UOB) in a co-tutorship agreement with Université du Littoral-Côte d’Opale (ULCO), France. Her PhD dissertation entitled: “Production d’hydrogène par reformage catalytique du toluène sur des oxydes mixtes Ni-Mg-Al. Effet de l’ajout de cérium ou de lanthane” was supervised by Dr. Samer Aouad (Department of Chemistry) from UOB and Pr. Edmond Abi Aad and Dr. Cédric Gennequin from ULCO.

Dr. Abou Rached, 27, graduated from the Lebanese University with a BS in Chemistry and an MS in Physical Chemistry and Chemistry of Materials. It was after she met with Dr. Aouad by chance that she was encouraged to pursue her PhD at the University of Balamand.

Jihane presented her work on Friday March the 31st in front of a jury chaired by Dr. Jane Estephane (UOB) and including Pr. Madona Labaki (UL), Dr. Hervé Pron (Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne), Pr. Maya Boutros (UL), Dr. Cédric Gennequin (ULCO), Pr. Edmond Abi Aad (ULCO) and Dr. Samer Aouad (UOB).

The aim of Dr. Abou Rached’s work was to develop a cheap catalyst to be used for the valorization of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) effluents. For this, toluene was used as a probe VOC molecule and a Ni-Mg-Al catalyst promoted with cerium or lanthanum was devised to accelerate the toluene conversion reactions.

In one part of her thesis, Dr. Abou Rached considered the use of her catalyst to speed up the reaction between toluene and carbon dioxide and produce a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen known as “Syngas”. This is a very useful reaction that allows the conversion of a toxic gas (toluene) and a greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) into “syngas” that can be transformed into valuable liquid fuels.

In another part, a different application was considered. In fact, the same catalyst was used in the reaction of toluene with water (steam) to produce hydrogen laden products gas mixture free of carbon monoxide. The separated hydrogen can then be readily used for fuel cell applications with little worries regarding the poisoning of the fuel cell platinum electrodes with carbon monoxide.

The catalyst developed by Dr. Abou Rached showed very good stability for long “time on stream” periods in both applications and moreover it overmatched the performance of the traditional industrial catalyst adopted for these applications.

Jihane’s work was financed with a joint PhD scholarship from the Lebanese Council of Scientific Research (CNRSL) and ULCO. The experimental work required her to spend six months a year in each UOB and ULCO, respectively, over a period of three years.

Jihane is a co-author of two publications in Elsevier’s “International Journal of Hydrogen Energy” and one publication in Springer’s “Environmental Science and Pollution Research”. She also presented a part of her work in the “7th International Renewable Energy Congress, 2016” that was then published in two IEEE proceedings articles. She is currently working on the submission of two additional journal papers.

Good Luck to Jihane Abou Rached and Congratulations to the Faculty of Sciences! ​​​​​​​
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