You’re invited to join the Department of Chemical Engineering on Thursday, July 11, for a seminar by Dr. Drew Higgins, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at McMaster University. He will speak about his research on the development and understanding of electrocatalyst materials and electrode structures for sustainable electrochemical energy technologies.
For electrochemical energy conversion and storage technologies to become viable components of future sustainable energy infrastructures, the development of catalysts that are active, selective, stable and inexpensive is required.
The first portion of this talk will focus on catalysts for electrochemical reduction of CO2 to produce industrially relevant fuels and chemicals. While these products are generally fossil fuel derived, electrochemical CO2 reduction (CO2R) provides opportunity to use renewable energy (i.e., wind, solar, hydro) as the energy input to achieve a carbon-neutral artificial photosynthesis process. This talk will take a fundamental approach towards understanding CO2R catalysis, and particularly the effects that alloying and surface structure engineering have on the activity and selectivity of copper-based catalysts. A discussion of the remaining challenges facing electrochemical CO2R technology development will be included.
The second portion of the talk will focus on the development of low-platinum oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalysts to address cost and performance challenges facing the deployment of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC) for hydrogen-based electrification of the transport sector. Particularly, an atomic layer deposition route involving the use of carbon monoxide as a nanoparticle growth inhibiter was developed for catalyst synthesis. The atomic layer deposition growth of Pt nanoparticles on both two-dimensional (planar) carbon substrates and high surface area carbon supports is demonstrated, with the ORR activity and stability of the atomic layer deposited catalysts surpassing those of commercial fuel cell catalysts.
In January 2019, Drew Higgins began as an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at McMaster University, where his research focuses on the development and understanding of electrocatalyst materials and electrode structures for sustainable electrochemical energy technologies, including fuel cells and electrolyzers.
Drew completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 2015 under the supervision of Professor Zhongwei Chen. His PhD work involved the synthesis, characterization and device integration of nanostructured oxygen reduction catalysts for low temperature fuel cells. During this time, he spent just under one year at the Los Alamos National Laboratory working under the mentorship of Dr. Piotr Zelenay.
In 2015, Drew started a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University in the Department of Chemical Engineering, working in Professor Thomas Jaramillo’s group. His research focused on obtaining a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms and properties governing electrochemical CO2 reduction catalysis.
In 2017, he was promoted to an Associate Staff Scientist at Stanford University / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where he oversaw research activities focusing on discovering and understanding new electrocatalyst compositions and structures for a variety of important electrochemical reactions, including water oxidation, CO2 reduction, oxygen reduction and methane activation. More details are available at https://www.higginslab.com/.
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