2110 CHE (and via Zoom)
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Speaker: Eric Detsi, MSE Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Title: Non-Traditional Metal Structures (Nanoporous, Liquid, and Ternary Compounds) for On-demand Hydrogen Generation and Electrochemical Energy Storage (Li-, Na-, and Mg-ion Batteries)
Today in the U.S., we deal with the severe, wide ranging effects of climate change from the West to East Coast in the form of heat waves, drought, wildfires, and flooding. To mitigate these issues, we need to move away from fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy technologies. Non-conventional materials and structures for electrochemical energy conversion and storage, such as non-precious nanoporous metals, liquid metals, and ternary metal compounds, could play a critical role in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy technologies. For example, renewable energy can be stored in Earth-abundant metals (such as Al, Mg, and Fe) or metalloids (B, Si) simply by creating these materials with minimum carbon emissions. These materials exhibit much higher volumetric energy densities than coal and gasoline: Burning Fe metal as a fuel will release twice as much energy as burning the same volume of coal or gasoline; and burning Al metal will release three times as much energy as burning the same volume of coal or gasoline. By activating these metals and metalloids through nanostructuring, these materials can release energy through reaction with oxygen (i.e. dry metal fuel oxidation) or water (i.e. wet metal fuel oxidation). In this talk, I will discuss how we activate water-reactive metals like Al and Mg using air-free electrolytic dealloying and use these metals to release energy in the form of heat and chemical bonds (hydrogen) through hydrolysis (i.e. wet metal fuel oxidation). After energy is extracted through oxidation, the solid reaction products, in the form of metal (hydr)oxides, can be converted back into pure metals through reduction using sustainable energy resources such as hydropower, solar power and wind power to enable a sustainable metal fuel economy. A metal or metalloid structure can also release energy when used as an alloy anode in a Li-, Na-, K- or Mg-ion battery. However, high-capacity metal-ion battery alloy anodes suffer from rapid failure due to the phase transformations accompanying reversible alloying reactions during (dis)charging. These phase transformations give rise to huge volume changes that soon break the electrode materials, sometimes only after a few cycles. In this talk, I will discuss our work on developing novel metallic structures including liquid metals and ternary metal compounds to overcome these issues. For example, we have developed liquid metals and fusible alloys that undergo a solid-liquid instead of a solid-solid transformation during (dis)charging; as a result, such failures are eliminated.
Eric Detsi is the Stephenson Term Chair Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his B.Sc. (2006), M.Sc. (2008), and Ph.D. (2012) degrees in Applied Physics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Before joining Penn, he conducted research at the Department of Chemistry at UCLA (2013-2016) as a Dutch Science Foundation Rubicon Postdoctoral. His current research involves using liquid metals and non-precious nanoporous materials such as nanoporous magnesium, aluminum, silicon, antimony, and tin for electrochemical energy conversion and storage.
Dr. Detsi has published over 52 peer-reviewed papers, holds 5 patents/invention disclosures, and is the lead PI on a multi-institutional NSF Future Manufacturing Research Grant. He is a recipient of a CAREER Award from NSF, and the S. Reid Warren Jr. Award from Penn for stimulating and guiding the intellectual and professional development of Penn undergraduate students. He is also a Journal of Materials Chemistry A Emerging Investigator.
Dr. Detsi is committed to enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion, and his group, which is 40% women, has offered research opportunities to URM and 1st generation, low-income students. He has also initiated a STEM outreach program for underrepresented deaf and hard-of-hearing students from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD).
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