Engineering Hierarchical and Non-Equilibrium Materials for Climate and Energy Crises

Mar 8

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Wednesday, March 8, 2023 – 9:00AM to 10:00AM


Liang Feng

The climate crisis is reshaping how we harvest, store, and consume energy globally. To achieve net zero emissions by 2050, we must develop low-cost and energy-efficient materials and mechanisms for carbon capture, hydrogen storage, and sustainable catalysis. In the first part of my talk, I will describe my efforts to develop new hierarchical materials for carbon capture by using pore engineering strategies to tailor structures with desired pore environments. The commercialization and scale-up production of these porous materials were achieved with the collaboration of industry partners. In the second part of my talk, I will describe my design of an active adsorption mechanism that provides a potential solution for effective decarbonization. Over the past century, adsorption has been investigated extensively only in equilibrium systems, with a focus on physisorption and chemisorption. I will present the first fundamentally new mode of adsorption-mechanisorption-since the observation of physisorption and chemisorption in the 1930s. Analogous to the active transport mechanism in living organisms, adsorbates are actively transported from the bulk to the interface, thereby creating a vast chemical potential gradient commensurate with storing energy in a metastable state. Mechanisorption extends, in a fundamental manner, the scope and potential of adsorption phenomena and offers a transformative approach to control chemistry at surfaces and interfaces. Lastly, I will summarize the progress and provide an outlook for my next steps in driving continuous adsorption of carbon dioxide from low-concentration regions through this active adsorption mechanism. By using these materials and mechanisms, we can make significant progress toward addressing the climate and sustainability crises we face today.