To understand, design, and optimize trace metal and carbon dioxide transformation and/or capture on surfaces to prevent their release into the atmosphere.
Density functional theory is used to carry out electronic structure calculations that assist in providing understanding of mechanisms responsible for gas-surface reactivity. The US has over 300 GW of power capacity from pulverized coal combustion. Reducing emissions from coal will require postcombustion capture technology to retrofit these existing power plants. Efforts in the Clean Energy Conversions lab are made to capture trace metals and CO2 from coal conversion processes.
Adsorption and membrane processes are investigated for carbon capture applications. Breakthrough and isotherm experiments are carried out on carbon-based sorbents to investigate the kinetics and material capacities. Simulations using Grand Canonical Monte Carlo are carried out to assist in sorbent design (pore structure and chemistry). Similar models are used to investigate gas (CO2, methane, water) transport in nanoporous systems of coal and gas shale rocks. Nitrogen-selective membrane technology is also investigated for carbon capture.
Trace metal measurement techniques are developed in the Clean Energy Conversions lab and combustion flue gas is simulated by burning methane in air. Breakthrough and adsorption experiments are carried out to investigate sorbents and oxidation catalysts for trace metal (mercury, arsenic, and selenium) and carbon capture.