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Press Release

Press Release

Doctoral Thesis on epoxidation of light olefins on titanium silicates

Matias Ignacio Alvear Cabezon
Matias Alvear Cabezon


M.Sc. (Chem.Eng.) Matias Alvear Cabezon’s doctoral thesis in Industrial Chemistry and Reaction Engineering will be put forth for public defence at the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Åbo Akademi University.

The thesis is entitled Epoxidation of light olefins on titanium silicates.

The public defence of the doctoral thesis takes place on 6 October 2023 at 1PM in auditorium Argentum, Aurum, Henrikinkatu 2, Turku.  Professor Juan García Serna, Universidad de Valladolid, Spain, will serve as opponent and Academy Professor Tapio Salmi, Åbo Akademi University, as custos.


Epoxides serve as crucially important chemical intermediates in the production of various products, including antifreeze agents, polymers, adhesives, and coatings. Each year, millions of tons of these products are manufactured, underscoring the significance of understanding the underlying reaction systems on a molecular level. This study was focused on the epoxidation of light olefins using titanium silicate catalysts. We examined the epoxidation of individual olefins, such as ethene, propene, 1-butene, and iso-butene, as well as mixtures of these compounds. The research involved a comprehensive analysis of titanium silicate catalysts, specifically TS-1 and Ti-MWW, and their active sites. This exploration shed light on the interactions between reactants and catalysts during the activation of titanium sites. 

The experiments on the epoxidation of individual olefins revealed dynamic behaviour changes dependent on the length of the alkene chain length and molecular structure. Additionally, the epoxidation of olefin mixtures emerged as an important process enhancement. 

Comparing the two titanium silicates, revealed significant differences despite their apparent similarities. Both materials exhibited an activity under mild conditions. Nevertheless, the analysis of reactant-catalyst interactions highlighted distinct responses in the titanium active sites, depending on the material. 

This doctoral thesis provides a comprehensive investigation of the epoxidation on titanium silicates, encompassing reactants, materials, and active sites. The application of transient techniques, such as step responses, proved to be invaluable in understanding the behaviour of reactive systems. Seven articles were published in high-level international scientific journals, and one patent was created based on this work. Simultaneously, the results of the work were presented at sixteen international conferences on three continents. 


Matias Alvear Cabezón is born in 1994 in Chile. He can be reached by phone +358 40 643 1777 or email matias.alvear@abo.fi. 

The doctoral thesis can be read online through the Doria publication archive. 

Click here for a press photo of the doctoral student.