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ChEMS Department Research Forum 2021

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Overview of current research activities presented as posters and talks by students, faculty, and invited guests.

About this event

The 17th Annual ChEMS Research Forum will showcase departmental research advances in the areas of:

  • Energy and Sustainability
  • Nanotechnology and Materials
  • Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering

This one-day virtual meeting in gather.town will feature invited plenary speakers, oral presentations from faculty and students, and an extended poster session describing the latest department research results.

If you or your company shares an interest in chemical engineering and materials science, then this event offers a uniquely personal and informal view into the general research directions of the ChEMS department, its current research projects, and, most importantly, an opportunity to get to know the many talented graduate students that are at the heart of it all.

Feedback from past Research Forums:

  • "Students were very professional and capable."
  • "Had a great time."
  • "Great event in all respects."

We hope to welcome you on May 13!

Sponsors


		ChEMS Department Research Forum 2021 image

		ChEMS Department Research Forum 2021 image

Keynote Speakers

  • Jason Nicholas, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Michigan State University
  • Mike Witt, Corporate Director – Carbon, Circularity and Safer Materials, Dow
  • Robert Ferrier, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Michigan State University

		ChEMS Department Research Forum 2021 image

Keynote Topics

  • New Composites for Improved Solid Oxide Fuel/Electrolysis Cells. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) have the highest demonstrated and theoretical energy densities and efficiencies of any chemical-to-electrical energy technology. In addition, they can be operated in reverse, as Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOECs), to store energy, produce fuels, or manufacture chemicals. Unfortunately, despite being invented in the 1930s, SOFCs are still not yet commercially viable for most envisioned applications. In response, the SOFC community has sought to deploy multiple materials, across multiple length scales, to enhance SOFC performance, improve SOFC stability, and reduce SOFC manufacturing costs. This talk will highlight two most recent successes of Jason Nicholas' research group in this regard: 1) how Atomic Layer Deposited thin films or infiltrated secondary-phase particles can be used to facilitate oxygen exchange across electrocatalyst surfaces, and 2) how porous and/or patterned porous nickel layers can be used to direct the wetting and spreading of molten silver on typically unwettable ceramic surfaces (for sealing and/or current collection applications). Thoughts on how these advances may affect other fields will also be discussed.
  • Plastics: Solving the Waste Challenge and Making a Good Product Even Better. When mass production of plastics began in the 1940s, innovation of all types of products began to accelerate at a much faster pace. This strong and light-weight material enabled innovators to design products that were not thought to be possible. While plastics technology advanced, the world population doubled, and with it a waste infrastructure that was incapable of growing at a pace that matched the planet’s population growth. According to the World Bank, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70% to 3.4 billion tons in 2050. The impact of that waste is far worse in developing countries, particularly the urban poor, where over 90% of waste is often disposed of in unregulated dumps or openly burned. This is not only unsafe for the people of these regions but also places a great deal of stress on the environment. Poorly managed waste serves as a breeding ground for disease vectors and contributes to global climate change through greenhouse gas generation. So what do we do? This tremendous challenge for the plastics industry has created the burning need to accelerate our shift to a more circular economy. Mike Witt will discuss the challenge while noting the trajectory of some of the industry’s solutions.
  • Functional Polyether Materials to Solve Challenges in Energy, Environment, and Health. Polyethers, such as poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), are at the heart of technologies such as polymer electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries and excipients in pharmaceuticals. These materials are also found in a wide array of consumer products from insulating foams to laxatives to lubricants. The diverse end-uses of polyethers are derived from their functional monomer precursors, epoxides. However, unlike other monomer classes, there is no facile, general polymerization technique for epoxides, limiting them as a materials platform. In this talk, Robert Ferrier will describe a robust method to synthesize functional polyethers using an Earth-abundant aluminum-based polymerization platform. He will also discuss how this polymerization platform can be applied to copolymerize epoxides with other monomer classes to create unique polymeric materials. Finally, he will discuss how these novel functional polymers can be applied to solve challenges in energy, environment, and health.
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