The next evolution in water oxidation

Monday, March 17, 2014 - 11:45am
115 Teer
John Kitchin, Carnegie Mellon University

Electrochemical water oxidation may play a crucial role in future renewable energy systems for energy storage, fuel synthesis, and integration with oxycombustion systems. Some outstanding challenges in efficiently oxidizing water remain, including the overly high energetic cost of water electrolysis, and the high cost of materials that perform moderately well. Many efforts have focused on searching for new oxide-based materials with enhanced performance, but no exceptional material has been found to date that is substantially better than known materials. We will show a simple model based on thermodynamics and parameterized by density functional theory that suggests there is an upper bound in activity oxide-based materials that may explain why substantially better materials have not yet been found, and that suggests what must be done to find better materials. We will highlight some challenges in the accuracy of the model, both on the experimental side of what is actually modeled, and on the computational side of the methods used for the modeling. We will illustrate a new, more accurate computational methodology and our plans to use that in pushing the next evolution in water oxidation forward.

Biography: John Kitchin completed his B.S. in Chemistry at North Carolina State University. He completed a M.S. in Materials Science and a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware in 2004 under the advisement of Dr. Jingguang Chen and Dr. Mark Barteau. He received an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship and lived in Berlin, Germany for 1 ½ years studying alloy segregation with Karsten Reuter and Matthias Scheffler in the Theory Department at the Fritz Haber Institut. Professor Kitchin began a tenure-track faculty position in the Chemical Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University in January of 2006. He is currently an Associate Professor. At CMU, Professor Kitchin is active in a major research effort within the National Energy Technology Laboratory Regional University Alliance in CO2 capture, chemical looping and superalloy oxidation. Professor Kitchin also uses computational methods to study adsorbate-adsorbate interactions on transition metal surfaces for applications in catalysis. He was awarded a DOE Early Career award in 2010 to investigate multifunctional oxide electrocatalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction in water splitting using experimental and computational methods. He received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2011.

This seminar is co-sponsored by the Duke Energy Initiative as part of the Energy Research Seminar Series.