Michael Janik

Electrochemical conversion of biomass-derived species to chemicals and fuels 

Aqueous electrochemistry represents a synthetic platform for rearrangements involving H or O atoms under ambient conditions. The electrochemical environment can alter product distributions and efficiencies in comparison to analogous thermochemical routes. Moreover, driving reactions with electric potential can be particularly advantageous when large, sensible heats associated with solvents hamper the efficiency of utilizing temperature.  Conversion of biomass-derived molecules, such as furfural, are especially interesting for electrochemical conversions as these reactions combine hydrogenation and oxidation, and offer the ability to tune the relative rates of conversion paths that involve differences in the number of electrons involved.  In this REU project, students will apply computational chemistry techniques to investigate the electrocatalytic conversion of biomass-derived species on late transition metals.  Students will learn to interact with high-performance computing resources and will gain experience in computational chemistry and electrochemistry.

graphic of arrangement of hydrogen and oxygen atoms

Peptide-facilitated electrocatalysts for the reduction of nitrogen to ammonia

1-2% of all energy used worldwide is expended synthesizing ammonia from nitrogen. The energy intensity of the current Haber-Bosch process results from the high temperature and pressure operation needed to facilitate the catalytic activation of the relatively inert N2 molecule.  We are examining an electrochemical process that could use renewable electricity to drive the reduction of N2 to NH3 at ambient conditions.  This summer project will use computational chemistry techniques to investigate how short amino acid sequences tethered to a transition metal catalyst could accelerate the reduction of nitrogen.  Students will learn to interact with high-performance computing resources and will gain experience in computational chemistry and electrochemistry.

Faculty Research Links



Contact Information

Manish Kumar, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
REU Program Coordinator
mxk64@psu.edu
814-865-7519

Esther Gomez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
REU Program Coordinator
ewg10@psu.edu
814-867-4732

apply now
 

About

The Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering, established in 1948, is recognized as one of the largest and most influential chemical engineering departments in the nation.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry.

Department of Chemical Engineering

119 Greenberg Complex

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2574