The innovative desalination process invented by CEC graduate student researcher Kyle Knust and Prof. Richard Crooks was featured in the June 2014 issue of Popular Science.
News & Upcoming Events
Professor Keith Stevenson testified in Washington, DC to Congress at a special hearing on nanotechnology on May 20, 2014. Professor Stevenson represented Texas and discussed the impact of the national nanotechnology initiative and how UT is addressing STEM and workforce needs.
The rechargeable battery pioneers who laid the groundwork for today’s lithium ion battery will be presented with engineering’s highest honor during a Feb. 18 ceremony in Washington. Among them will be CEC faculty member John Goodenough.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will honor Goodenough, Rachid Yazami, Akira Yoshino, and Yoshio Nishi with the Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering, which annually recognizes engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society, and is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering. The prize, which is in its 25th year, includes a $500,000 award.
Thirty five years ago, Goodenough demonstrated the feasibility of a rechargeable lithium ion battery at four volts with the use of lithium cobalt oxide as the positive node. In 1980, Yazami showed that graphite could be used as the battery’s negative node. Yoshino assembled the first prototype lithium ion battery in 1985, and six years later, Sony released the first commercial lithium ion battery, with research, development, and production led by Nishi.
The market for lithium ion batteries, an important feature in devices including laptops, smartphones, hearing aids, and electric cars, is projected to reach nearly $60 billion by 2020, according to an IHS iSuppli study. The Charles Stark Draper Prize was established and endowed by Draper Laboratory in 1988 in tribute to its founder, Dr. Charles Stark Draper, who pioneered inertial navigation. It honors those who have contributed to the advancement of engineering and to improve public understanding of the importance of engineering and technology. Previous winners over the past 25 years include the inventors of the mobile phone and supporting infrastructure, the World Wide Web, GPS, and the turbojet engine.
See more from the full story from UT-Austin.
President Obama has named Dr. Allen J. Bard and Dr. Andrew Sessler as recipients of the Enrico Fermi Award, one of the government's oldest and most prestigious awards for scientific achievement.
The Presidential award carries an honorarium of $50,000, shared equally, and a medal. The award is administered on behalf of the White House by the U.S. Department of Energy. "Allen Bard and Andy Sessler have advanced the science and technology frontier throughout their distinguished careers and, in doing so, have contributed greatly to sustained US leadership in research and development," said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. "I congratulate them for their achievements and hope that the example they set serves as inspiration to future generations of scientists and engineers."
The Fermi Award honors the memory of Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, the first scientist to achieve a nuclear chain reaction and a pioneer in the field of nuclear and particle physics. The award has been presented to outstanding scientists since 1956. It is given for distinguished achievement, leadership, and service related to all basic and applied research, science, and technology supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and its programs. Secretary Moniz will present the Fermi Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Monday, February 3, 2014, at 3pm EST.
This is the second Enrico Fermi Award to be received by a CEC faculty member. John Goodenough has previously won the award, in 2009, for his lasting contributions to materials science and technology, especially the science underlying lithium-ion batteries.
Enrico Fermi Award Winners
Dr. Allen J. Bard
Director, Center for Electrochemistry and Hackerman-Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas.
Dr. Bard has been selected for his significant contributions to basic research, technological innovation, teaching and service. Additionally, his exemplary career and dedication to the highest ideals of scientific research have served as a model for four generations of scientists in the United States and abroad and earned him a reputation as the "father of modern electrochemistry." Through his service to the profession—including numerous publications, training of scientists, and applications of research to a broad array of challenges in the energy domain—he has raised the scientific standard in—and brought national and international recognition to—the field of electrochemistry. Electrochemistry holds significant importance and promise in the field of energy research, underlying recent advances in batteries, fuel cells, and solar photoelectrochemistry, and supporting a range of advances in biology, chemistry, physics and engineering.
Dr. Bard received a B.S. in Chemistry from the City College of the College of New York in 1955, an M.A. in Chemistry from Harvard University in 1956 and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard in 1958. He joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in 1958, and has spent his entire career there. Dr. Bard has published over 900 peer-reviewed research papers and 75 book chapters and other publications, and has received over 23 patents.
Dr. Andrew Sessler
Distinguished Scientist Emeritus and Director Emeritus, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Former President of the American Physical Society.
Dr. Sessler has been selected for his outstanding contributions to the establishment of the beam-physics knowledge basis that has underpinned the development of current-generation particle accelerators and storage rings deployed at leading research institutions throughout the world. Since the 1950s, Dr. Sessler has been internationally recognized for developing particle accelerators and beam science, providing foundational work enabling high-energy colliders, synchrotron light sources and free-electron lasers vital to current and future scientific discoveries. In addition to the visionary role he has played directing the scientific research landscape toward new horizons in sustainable energy and the environment, Dr. Sessler was also selected for having served as an outstanding leader of the nation's physical science research community, and as an international advocate for scientific freedom.
Dr. Sessler received an A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard University in 1949, an M.A. in Physics from Columbia University in 1951 and a Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia in 1953. He served as the Director of DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from 1973 to 1980.
Additional information about the Fermi Award is available at: http://science.energy.gov/fermi.
See the full story from The University of Texas website at: http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/01/13/chemist-allen-bard-receives-enrico...
Research from CEC faculty member Keith Stevenson's group, with graduate student Donald A. Robinson as first author, was recently honored with a feature on the cover of J. Mat. Chem. A.
The featured paper, "Uniform epitaxial growth of Pt on Fe3O4 nanoparticles; synergetic enhancement to Pt activity for the oxygen reduction reaction" presents a synthetic strategy for achieving uniform shell-like epitaxial growth of Pt on Fe3O4 nanoparticles, and potentially a general strategy for depositing platinum on any amine-functionalized surface. The research is part of a larger multi-investigator effort in the CEC to develop hybrid nanomaterials and processes for ultrasensitive sensors. The full article may be accessed at DOI: 10.1039/c3ta12987j.
CEC faculty member Michael Rose has been awarded funding for “H2 from H2O: A Water-Splitting Outreach Kit for High School Chemistry Students” from The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.
The new funding is to develop and expand the outreach program, which is designed to bring hands-on laboratory experience to local and regional high school chemistry classrooms, and to raise awareness about the important role played by chemists in developing sustainable sources of energy for the 21st century. Details about the program are available on Prof. Rose’s website.
The Dreyfus Foundation Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences provides funding for innovative projects in any area consistent with the Foundation’s broad objective to advance the chemical sciences.
Congratulations to CEC graduate students Josephine Cunningham and Nicholas Brenes, both of the Crooks group, on receiving fellowships through the NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Graduate Fellowship Program, a program funded by NASA’s Office of Education Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).
Nicholas and Josephine are two of just 30 graduate students, selected from across the U.S., to receive the competitive fellowship, which provides as much as $45,000 annually for as many as three years, and includes tuition offset, student stipend, and a research experience at a NASA center.
The graduate fellowship seeks to support the development of the future STEM workforce through the increased number of graduate degrees awarded to underrepresented and underserved persons (women, minorities and persons with disabilities) in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. A full list of the awardees for 2013 is available from nasa.gov.
By creating a small electrical field that removes salts from seawater, CEC chemists in the Crooks group at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Marburg in Germany have introduced a new method for the desalination of seawater that consumes less energy and is dramatically simpler than conventional techniques.
The new method requires so little energy that it can run on a store-bought battery. Graduate student Kyle Knust in the Crooks research group is conducting research in electrochemical membraneless desalination. A 3.0 V potential bias is applied across a microelectrochemical cell comprising two microchannels spanned by a single bipolar electrode (BPE) to drive chloride oxidation and water electrolysis at the BPE poles. The resulting ion depletion zone and associated electric field gradient direct ions into a branching microchannel, producing desalted water.
The process evades the problems confronting current desalination methods by eliminating the need for a membrane and by separating salt from water at a microscale. The technique, called electrochemically mediated seawater desalination, was described in a recent publication in Angewandte Chemie. The research team was led by Richard Crooks of The University of Texas at Austin and Ulrich Tallarek of the University of Marburg. It’s patent-pending and is in commercial development by startup company Okeanos Technologies.
“The availability of water for drinking and crop irrigation is one of the most basic requirements for maintaining and improving human health,” said Crooks, the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences. “Seawater desalination is one way to address this need, but most current methods for desalinating water rely on expensive and easily contaminated membranes. The membrane-free method we’ve developed still needs to be refined and scaled up, but if we can succeed at that, then one day it might be possible to provide fresh water on a massive scale using a simple, even portable, system.”
Congratulations to CEC faculty member Simon Humphrey, who has been awarded by The University of Texas a Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.
These awards are offered annually in recognition extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in undergraduate instruction to faculty members selected across the nine academic and six health UT System institutions.
Regarding the award, Humphrey said, "It is essential to teach a broad and stimulating curriculum to our undergraduate students, which not only installs important core skills, but also focuses on teaching chemistry that is relevant to the future of society. I endeavor to teach fundamental chemistry that facilitates a clear understanding of key concepts, in unison with the use of topical examples."
Congratulations to Stephen Fosdick on winning the William C. Powers Graduate Fellowship. Fosdick is a graduate student in the Crooks group researching bipolar electrochemistry.
The William C. Powers Graduate Fellowship is given by the UT-Austin Graduate School and is intended to provide recognition and financial support to outstanding graduate students at the university. The fellowship was established in 2009 by renowned sports psychologist and 1970 UT-Austin graduate Dr. Steven Ungerleider through the Foundation for Global Sports Development, an outreach and mentorship educational fund where Ungerleider is a trustee.