Nav: Home

Using renewable electricity for industrial hydrogenation reactions

October 29, 2019

PITTSBURGH (Oct. 29, 2019) -- From the design of improved batteries to the use of solar and wind power for commodity chemical production, the University of Pittsburgh's James McKone ways that chemical engineering can make the world more sustainable. That's why his most recent work, investigating ways that the chemical industry can use renewable electricity as its energy source, is featured in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A Emerging Investigators special issue.

The themed issue highlights the rising stars of materials chemistry research, from nanoparticle inks to next-generation solar cells. The featured investigators are early in their careers and were recommended by other experts in the field. Dr. McKone is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering,

"We're glad to have James on our faculty and know this honor is well-deserved," says Steven Little, PhD, chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Swanson School. "It confirms what we already know: that his lab's work has the potential to influence the direction of future discoveries in energy production, energy storage and beyond."

The paper, "Comparisons of WO3 reduction to HxWO3 under thermochemical and electrochemical control" (DOI: 10.1039/C9TA06394C), features experiments and analysis completed by Evan V. Miu, a doctoral candidate in the McKone Lab. In this paper, McKone and Miu lay the groundwork for a new way to use renewable electricity as the primary energy input for industrial hydrogenation reactions, which are extremely important in the production of fuel and fertilizer.

"The rapid growth in the electric vehicle market shows that it will be possible to replace fossil fuels with renewable electricity in the transportation sector" says McKone. "But the industrial sector also uses a lot of fossil resources, and we don't really know how to make, for example, plastic out of anything but petroleum. We're working to change that by inventing ways to convert the most abundant resources on the planet--air and seawater--into many of the fuels and chemicals that we use every day."

Earlier this year, McKone was selected by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) as one of 36 recipients of this year's Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. The award supports his project aimed at increasing the efficiency of redox flow batteries, making it easier for the electric grid to accommodate massive quantities of renewable power.
-end-


University of Pittsburgh

Related Engineering Articles:

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.
Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.
Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.
New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.
Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.
Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.
Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.
What can snakes teach us about engineering friction?
If you want to know how to make a sneaker with better traction, just ask a snake.
Engineering a plastic-eating enzyme
Scientists have engineered an enzyme which can digest some of our most commonly polluting plastics, providing a potential solution to one of the world's biggest environmental problems.
A new way to do metabolic engineering
University of Illinois researchers have created a novel metabolic engineering method that combines transcriptional activation, transcriptional interference, and gene deletion, and executes them simultaneously, making the process faster and easier.
More Engineering News and Engineering Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab