Sustainable Production of Fuels and Chemicals from First Principles
Emily A. Carter
School of Engineering and Applied Science
Someday the world’s liquid fuels needed for ships and airplanes will come from sustainable sources and low-energy processing. We are far from that day. While that fact is unfortunate, it opens up exciting opportunities for researchers from many different fields to work together to realize that vision. I will report on some of my research group’s contributions toward this goal, as we develop and apply quantum mechanics based simulation methods to unravel mechanisms associated with (photo)electrochemical water oxidation and carbon dioxide reduction at semiconductor electrodes and plasmon-catalyzed bond breaking over metal nanoparticles. The talk will focus primarily on CO2 photoelectroreduction to fuel precursors but, time permitting, will also outline the potential for plasmonic catalysis to replace, e.g., the energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process. This latter work illustrates the potential to develop a non-thermal, low-pressure, visible-light-based approach to ammonia synthesis and hence to sustainable fertilizer production.
Emily A. Carter is the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, as well as a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. She is an associated faculty member in Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering (PICSciE), the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM), and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment (ACEE). She was the Founding Director of the Andlinger Center from 2010-2016.
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