Nano@Tech Spring 2023 Series | Electrocatalysis for Clean Chemical Manufacturing and Environmental Remediation

Featuring Marta C. Hatzell, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech

Abstract: Of the four major energy-use sectors (transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial), the industrial sector accounts for the largest amount of energy use (~33 EJ/year). This energy use results in nearly 1500 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions yearly. The large carbon footprint is due to most modern industrial processes’ reliance on process heat which is often derived from coal, natural gas, and petroleum. With rising concerns related to global carbon emissions, there is a strong interest in displacing process heat with electricity. However, direct use of electricity for chemical manufacturing processes is challenging if not impossible. This has motivated a strong need to rethink and redesign many catalytic and separations-based processes to decarbonize the chemical manufacturing sector.
Within the chemical commodity industry, transforming thermocatalytic and thermal-based separation and catalysis processes with electrochemical-driven processes is one way to electrify and decarbonize the chemical industry. Thus, the primary aim of this talk is to detail how photochemical and electrochemical processes may aid in achieving this goal. I will aim to discuss the thermodynamic and kinetic challenges and opportunities which exist when transforming thermocatalytic systems into electrocatalytic processes. I will then aim to discuss the growing opportunities related to electrocatalytic ammonia and ethylene production. Specific focus will be placed on describing the opportunities in tuning molecular scale mechanisms and atomic scale materials design to enable ideal conversion.

Bio: Marta Hatzell is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Hatzell’s research group focuses on exploring how to electrify catalytic and separation-based processes to enable sustainable industrial systems. Her group works on materials, characterization, and system analyses for electrolysis, fuel cells, desalination, and solar energy conversion processes. Hatzell completed her BS, MS, and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Penn State University, and completed an M.Eng in environmental engineering from Penn State University. Hatzell’s Ph.D. research conducted with Professor Bruce Logan explored environmental technologies for energy generation and water treatment. During her Ph.D., she was an NSF graduate research fellow and PEO fellow. Hatzell received the Moore Inventor Fellowship (2021), ECS Toyota Young Investigator Award (2021), Woodruff Faculty Fellowship (2021), ONR Young Investigator Award (2020), Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Chemistry (2020), and the NSF Early CAREER award (2019).

View a live stream of the seminar

A boxed lunch will be served on a first come, first served basis.