MechE Spring Seminar Series: Srikanth Gopalan

  • Starts: 11:00 am on Friday, April 7, 2023
  • Ends: 12:00 pm on Friday, April 7, 2023
Title: Transition to a Carbon Free Energy Future:  The Promise of Solid State Ionics  

Abstract: Incorporating more renewables into our energy mix is the central challenge that confronts our transition to a carbon free economy. Reversible solid oxide electrochemical cells (rSOCs) when operated alternately as fuel cell power systems and as electrolysis systems, can enable the incorporation and integration of far greater amounts of solar and wind energy into our power grid. They can also stand alone as distributed generation systems thereby decreasing our reliance on the grid. However, a number of scientific and technological challenges related to redox stability and cyclability of the electrodes remain. Since rSOCs constitute a technology platform that sits at the intersection of electrochemistry, functional materials, transport phenomena, reaction kinetics and thermodynamics, these challenges provide a rich avenue for research in coupled phenomena. This talk will first focus on recent research results on rSOCs in the Solid State Ionics lab at Boston University leading to high performance mode switching operation at the single cell level.  In the second part of the talk, we will summarize research results on the role played by topological features such as triple phase boundaries and two-phase boundaries in redox reactions at gas-solid interfaces, and the in-operando evolution of surface chemistry in rSOC oxygen electrodes.  In the third part of the talk, a novel scheme to achieve reactive separation of hydrogen from hydrocarbon and/or waste feedstock at high purities, with simultaneous sequestration of carbon dioxide using passive high temperature electrochemical membranes will be described.  We will conclude with a summary of future opportunities for research in solid state ionics for the mitigation of climate change.