I am currently looking for self-motivated and scientifically curious students for PhD and Master's projects in several of the areas described below. Please contact me using the form on this page for further information.
Fuel Cell Electrodes: Commercialization of fuel cells is a difficult challenge. One of the main obstacles is high cost due to the use of a significant amount of expensive noble metal catalyst. Improving gas phase mass transfer in fuel cell electrodes will enable the reduction of catalyst requirements by increasing cell efficiency and maximizing attainable currents. One of the main challenges in this effort is the removal of product water from the cell. Condensed liquid water in the porous electrodes creates a major blockage to gas phase mass transport to the catalyst sites. Strategies for effectively removing water from the electrode are being developed in my lab based on a fundamental understanding of liquid water movement and behavior in these porous electrode materials.
The concept of a "wetting fluid" and a "non-wetting" fluid are traditionally used to describe capillary interactions in multiphase porous media. In this picture, one fluid behaves as fully wetting and is expected to spontaneously imbibe into a porous substrate; as water does in tissue paper for instance. The vast majority of theoretical and computational tools are based on such systems. In reality, however, many multiphase systems do not display such simplistic behavior. In many cases neither fluid will spontaneously imbibe; but these systems still display other capillary phenomena. One of the major themes in my lab is the study of such neutral or intermediately wettable systems from both the experimental and theoretical perspectives. The goal is to provide a better set of tools to understand these complex systems.
Carbon Sequestration: Capillary pressure behavior in multiphase fluid systems at elevated temperature and pressure is important for many engineering applications. My lab is currently developing tools capable of withstanding the harsh conditions necessary for measure capillary characteristics in such systems.
Flow Batteries: Flow batteries are an excellent candidate for storing electricity on a large scale. They are suitable for storing electricity generated by intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar and releasing energy to the grid on demand. In these devices, dissolved ionic species are utilized in reversible redox reactions to store and release energy. Engineering a flow-through porous electrode simultaneously optimized for heterogeneous reaction, high mass transfer, ionic transport and electronic conduction is one of the main challenges investigated in my lab.