Name: Amélie Nicolay
School: University of California, Berkeley
Project: Synthesis, Structure and Reactivity of Heterobimetallic Complexes for Small Molecule Activation and Catalysis
Research Advisor: Prof. T. Don Tilley
Society remains tied to fossil fuels force while increasing pressure on the climate suggests a transition to renewable energy resources. At the heart of this conflict lies carbon dioxide which is so stable that it is nearly universally considered a waste product. I hope to change this perception by studying catalysts designed to transform carbon dioxide into chemicals and ideally into fuels, and more specifically by working with homogeneous, heterobimetallic complexes.
Such heterobimetallic systems are found in Nature: for example, the [NiFe] or [CuMo] carbon monoxide dehydrogenases are heterobimetallic enzymes that convert CO into CO2. Since these reactions must be reversible at the molecular scale, I expect that synthesizing and studying the reactivity of similar heterobimetallic complexes will allow me to better understand how to activate carbon dioxide. Also following nature’s lead, I focus on systems composed of earth-abundant elements, notably using first-row transition metals.
The bimetallic complexes of interest possess two metal centers in relatively close contact, such that they can be bridged by small molecules like carbon dioxide. Moreover, they are designed to hold selectively an early transition metal (e.g. Ti, Zr, Cr, Fe) next to a late metal (e.g. Ni, Co or Cu) in two distinct binding sites, with the goal that the early metal could stabilize charge developing on one end of a small molecule while the late metal donates charge to the other. Combined, I expect this polarization to enable the activation and transformation of a range of small molecules, including carbon dioxide.
Name: Firas Siala
Department: Mechanical Engineering
School: Oregon State University
Project: Enhanced Kinetic Energy Harvesting Based on Oscillating Flexible Foils
Research Advisors: Prof. James Liburdy
The flow energy in tidal currents, rivers and wind is an attractive alternative renewable energy resource, being plentiful and ubiquitous. Harvesting this energy has typically been accomplished using rotating turbine devices, resulting in many undesired technical, economic and environmental consequences. An alternative technology is of interest to obtain high efficiency, low cost of fabrication, scalability for distributed use, and have minimal impact on the natural environment. One promising concept relies on the use of oscillating hydrofoil devices, where the oscillation is a combined heaving and pitching motion. The distinct advantages include lower frequency of operation, greater versatility for a range of potential resource sites, less structural constraints on the device, and reduced impact upon the environment and wildlife. The goal of the proposed research is to apply biomimetically inspired flexible foil surfaces that passively respond to fluid loading to create highly efficient energy extraction. It has been learned that many flying and swimming creatures rely on both passive and active controlled surfaces (wings and fins) to improve their propulsive efficiency. This research will attempt to adapt this fluid-structure interaction to the energy extraction process thereby improving overall efficiency.
If you would like to find out more about our Link Foundation Energy Fellows and projects that have been funded in the field of Energy by the Link Foundation, please visit the Link Energy Fellowship webpage at http://www.linkenergy.org/fellows/.