Materials Science and Chemical Engineering Faculty Receive U.S. Department of Energy EFRC Awards
The College of Engineering and Applied Sciences is proud to announce that two of its faculty have received notification for funding to expand or develop Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). EFRCs are designed to accelerate scientific breakthroughs needed to strengthen U.S. economic leadership and energy security.
Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering and world renowned energy storage researcher, Esther Takeuchi , will lead a four-year $12 million grant to continue her groundbreaking research in the Center for Mesoscale Transport Properties ( m2M ). With this new funding, the m2M will further conduct basic science research to advance and enable the deliberate design of materials and components to achieve higher performing, longer life, and safer energy storage systems, including batteries.
“This funding allows us to investigate the fundamental science that governs the function of batteries,” said Takeuchi. “We aim to understand and then control the electron and ion transport within the batteries toward achieving the long elusive goal of combining high power and high energy content in one battery system.”
Anatoly Frenkel, Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering and a senior chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory , is co-PI on two EFRCs that have also received funding notifications from the U.S. DOE. The first one, Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis (IMASC) at Harvard University, will advance the goals of catalyst design through quantitative modeling and prediction of catalytic selectivity by using advanced experiment and theory. The second EFRC, Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI) at the University of Delaware, will investigate resource-efficient, conversion of biomass, into high-value, building-block chemicals and molecules with superior properties. The mechanisms of the chemical reactions of interest to the both Centers require the knowledge of catalytic active sites and their behaviors in real working (operando) conditions. Frenkel will bring his expertise in characterization and modeling to the both Centers by designing and leading operando experiments at the NSLS-II beamlines at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
“Catalytic active sites are a very small fraction of the catalyst but the most important and the most elusive one,” said Frenkel. “Deciphering their geometry and learning how it changes during reaction will provide the key to the reaction mechanism. By using machine learning and advanced synchrotron characterization methods we are now experimenting with zooming in at the active site to “watch it” in action. We look forward to contribute to the work of the both Centers which require such information to study their respective reactions and processes.”
“Esther’s work as a world class scholar and prolific inventor, and Anatoly’s renowned expertise in catalytic reactions exemplify the caliber of the faculty in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Energy systems for a sustainable future is one of our strategic research thrusts. These prestigious EFRC awards will enable our College to expand our leadership and strengthen our commitment in addressing one of humanity’s biggest challenges through cutting edge research and technology transfer.”
The awards are part of the DOE’s announcement of $100 million to fund 42 EFRCs .