Research Areas

To understand, design, and optimize trace metal and carbon dioxide transformation and/or capture on surfaces to prevent their release into the atmosphere.

Hydrogen Production and Storage

Density functional theory is used to carry out electronic structure calculations that assist in providing understanding of mechanisms responsible for gas-surface reactivity. The US has over 300 GW of power capacity from pulverized coal combustion. Reducing emissions from coal will require postcombustion capture technology to retrofit these existing power plants. Efforts in the Clean Energy Conversions lab are made to capture trace metals and CO2 from coal conversion processes.

Research Topics
  1. Trace Metal Capture
  2. Hydrogen Production
  3. Hydrogen Fuel Cells
  4. Hydrogen Storage
Read more about Hydrogen Production and Storage
Carbon Capture and Sequestration

Adsorption and membrane processes are investigated for carbon capture applications. Breakthrough and isotherm experiments are carried out on carbon-based sorbents to investigate the kinetics and material capacities. Simulations using Grand Canonical Monte Carlo are carried out to assist in sorbent design (pore structure and chemistry). Similar models are used to investigate gas (CO2, methane, water) transport in nanoporous systems of coal and gas shale rocks. Nitrogen-selective membrane technology is also investigated for carbon capture.

Research Topics
  1. Breakthrough Experiments
  2. Gas Sorption Modeling Using Grand Canonical Monte Carlo
  3. Transport Model Predictions using Molecular Dynamics
  4. Nitrogen-Selective Membranes (Post-combustion capture)
Read more about Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Mineral Carbonation

Mineral carbonation combines the steps of carbon capture and storage by reacting CO2 with alkaline materials to produce stable carbonate minerals with no risk of leakage under practical conditions. Our group is exciting about the prospects of this technology, and we aim our investigative approach at multiple levels:

Research Topics
  1. Process development and optimization for alkaline mine tailings
  2. Mapping for the co-location of CO2 and alkalinity sources to reveal promising geographical areas
  3. Investigation of product utilization through evaluation of material properties and analysis of CO2 avoidance potential
  4. Techno-economic analysis of current and proposed carbonation processes
Ammonia Production

Investigation of vanadium as a nitrogen-selective membrane to allow for nitrogen dissociation on retentate side and reaction with dissociated hydrogen on permeate side. Production of ammonia in a process that requires far less energy than the Haber-Bosch process with the added benefit of being transportable and compact to be used practically anywhere with N2 and H2 supply.

Trace Metal Capture

(No longer under investigation by CEC group)

Trace metal measurement techniques are developed in the Clean Energy Conversions lab and combustion flue gas is simulated by burning methane in air. Breakthrough and adsorption experiments are carried out to investigate sorbents and oxidation catalysts for trace metal (mercury, arsenic, and selenium) and carbon capture.

Research Topics
  1. Flue Gas Simulations
  2. Trace Metal Measurement and Speciation
  3. Gas-Phase Reaction Kinetics
Read more Trace Metal Capture