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Prospects of Electrocatalysis for Sustainable Manufacturing, Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, and Energy Storage

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Friday, March 3, 2023, 10 am

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Chemical Engineering Research Seminar

Meenesh R. Singh

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
University of Illinois Chicago


Electrocatalytic up-gradation of small molecules using H2O as a source of H and/or O and electrical energy offers opportunities for sustainable manufacturing of chemicals (e.g., NH3, C2H4, and CH3OH), mitigation of greenhouse gases (e.g., CO2 and CH4), environmental remediation (e.g., recycling of NO3) and storage of renewable energy. The efficient electrochemical conversion of small molecules necessitates highly active and selective catalytic materials with optimal reaction environments that lowers the energy requirements (i.e., overpotential) while yielding higher reaction rates (i.e., current density). The unprecedented challenge in this area has been to effectively channel electrons towards desired products and minimize the parasitic loss of electrons towards undesired by-products such as H2 or O2 . There are several factors that can affect the activity and selectivity for this process, such as composition and structure of the catalyst, overpotential, local electric field, and local concentration of reactants, including H2O and pH. In this talk, I will present fundamental studies involving the effect of these factors on the efficiency of electrocatalytic reactions for (i) sustainable manufacturing of C2H4 using CO2 capture and conversion system, (ii) greenhouse gas mitigation by selective conversion of CH4 to CH3OH, and (iii) energy and hydrogen storage by conversion of N2 from the air and/or NO3- from wastewater to NH3 . These patented technologies can support the manufacturing of green plastics, alternative fuels, and renewable fertilizers.


Dr. Singh is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the director of Materials and Systems Engineering Lab (MaSEL) at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), where his research group is developing state-of-the-art computational and experimental tools to solve grand challenges of the 21st century – i) develop carbon sequestration methods, ii) manage nitrogen cycle, iii) provide access to clean water and iv) engineer better medicines. Dr. Singh obtained his BE degree in chemical engineering from Sardar Patel University in 2005, MTech Degree in chemical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in 2008 and PhD in chemical engineering from Purdue University in 2013. His research resulted in 6 patents (3 licensed technologies), > 55 publications, 2 book chapters, 5 open-source software, >100 presentations in international conferences, and > 20 invited talks. His research lab has been awarded around $2.5 MM in external grant funding with total project funding of $7.2 MM and has strong/continued collaboration with 7+ multinational companies. He has mentored 3 PhD students who have recently joined MIT, LLNL, and AbbVie, and currently advising 6 PhD students, 3 postdocs, and several undergraduate students. He is a faculty advisor for AIChE Chem-E-Car, Editorial board member for 5 scientific journals, including Chemical Engineering Research & Design (Elsevier) and Sustainable Chemistry (MDPI). He is also the CTO of a company – eN-RAMPS, that focuses on the scale-up and commercialization of technologies developed in his lab at UIC.

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