Outreach Activities

Center for the Capture and Conversion of CO2

Seminars by Center Faculty

G. Tayhas R. Palmore, Professor and Director, Brown School of Engineering

Electrochemical Reduction of CO2: Storing the Energy of the Sun and the Wind

The technology to capture energy from the sun and the wind is rapidly expanding on the global level. Large-scale integration of this technology into a national grid requires the storage and/or conversion of this intermittent energy. Several technologies have been proposed including grid-scale electrochemical reduction of CO2 to valuable chemicals, including fuels, which effectively store intermittent sun- and wind-based energy for future use. This presentation describes an important step in the electrochemical reduction of CO2 at metallic electrodes, namely the introduction of defects favorable for the reaction of adsorbed hydrogen atoms with adsorbed CO2. Cu and Sn foams produced in our laboratory are mechanically robust during their preparation, handling, and use as electrocatalysts for the reduction of CO2. Both Cu and Sn foams are attractive metals for the electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 because of their low cost and non-toxic nature. Opportunities for graduate study and professional careers insustainable chemistry and engineering also will be presented.

Wesley Bernskoetter, Assistant Professor, Brown Department of Chemistry

Diapers to Dollars: Can commodity chemicals be made sustainably and cheaply?

The majority of carbon based plastics, including those with super water absorbing properties, are produced exclusively from fossil carbon sources such as coal, natural gas and petroleum. Our laboratory in engaged in the development of catalysts that could allow society to leverage our renewable carbon resources to make these
materials. Of particular interest is the use of highly abundant CO2 resources for the production of acrylic polymers as a surrogate for industrially utilized propylene oxidation technologies. While sporadic examples of stoichiometric ethylene-carbon dioxide coupling to acrylate have been reported on metals across the transition series, progress toward catalytic production has only recently gained traction. Our work has developed new ethylene-carbon dioxide coupling reactions on both early (Mo, W) and late (Ni) transition metals, examined their mechanisms of action, and elucidated the elementary steps likely to challenge catalytic performance in each class of metals.

Nilay Hazari, Assistant Professor, Yale Department of Chemistry

Carbon Dioxide - A Great Potential Feedstock for Chemicals

The decline in the world's petroleum reserves and concerns about the environmental consequences of fossil fuel use has led to a search for alternative carbon sources to make chemicals. Carbon dioxide is a particularly attractive starting material due to its high abundance, low cost and toxicity, and relative ease of transport. However, currently
the technology does not exist to convert CO2 into valuable chemicals such as ethylene, formic acid or acrylic acid. This presentation will describe recent efforts to find pathways for converting CO2 into these important chemicals that are currently synthesized from fossil fuels.

Robert Hurt, Professor, Brown School of Engineering

Nanotechnology for Energy and the Environment

Nanotechnology has been one of the largest and most transformative international scientific movements of the past 15 years. It has produced a wide variety of new materials and devices that are now serving as building blocks for the development of 21st century technologies in the areas of energy, environment, computing, and health care. This talk gives a brief overview of the state of nanotechnology with emphasis on its application to challenges in energy and the environment. Examples will be given of the use of nanotechnology for the design of next generation batteries, fuel cells, lightweight materials, environmental sorbents, filtration membranes, and catalysts for sustainable manufacturing. Opportunities for graduate study and professional careers in nanotechnology R&D will also be discussed.

Andrew Peterson, Assistant Professor, Brown School of Engineering

Designing catalysts for artificial photosynthesis from the ground up

Most chemicals and fuels today are made from fossil-fuel resources, such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Conversely, when nature designs carbon-based chemicals and fuels they are synthesized directly from CO2 in the atmosphere, through photosynthesis. If we could design processes that utilize CO2 as a feedstock, we could transform our chemical and fuel industry into one that more sustainably takes the same approach as nature. In this talk, I will describe how we are designing catalytic materials for the efficient and selective conversion of CO2 into building-block chemicals. Specifically, I will discuss our efforts to combine first-principles electronic structure calculations with state-of-the-art synthetic techniques to design catalysts that maximize the number of active sites for the selective conversion of CO2 to carbon monoxide, while minimizing the number of sites for competitive reactions. Additionally, ab initio design principles will be introduced that outline the basic strategies for building an electrocatalyst optimized for CO2 reduction.

Shouheng Sun, Professor, Brown Department of Chemistry

Design and Synthesis of Nanocatalysts for Selective CO2 Conversion

Our research in Brown Chemistry and CCI focuses on developing nanoparticle catalysts for selective electrochemical reduction of CO2 to other reusable carbon forms, such as carbon monoxide, formic acid, methanol, methane and ethylene. The goal of this research is to achieve sustainable supply of chemical fuels and feedstock for energy
and chemical industry applications without sacrificing our environment. 

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