Research at the Intersection of Water Chemistry, Electrochemistry, and Nanomaterials

Our research focuses on solving current problems that bridge water quality, nutrient management, and electrochemical energy conversion within the wastewater treatment, agricultural, and energy sectors. We pursue a blend of fundamental and applied research projects, where we work to understand how materials chemistry and water chemistry impact engineering solutions. Our research includes the synthesis, characterization, and testing of non-precious metal and metal oxide nanocatalysts, as well as electrochemical engineering and reactor/system design.

 

We synthesize iron-based bimetallic nanoparticles and nanoparticle-carbon composite materials for reactive degradation of water contaminants. Reactive nanoparticles can be used to reductively degrade halogenated organics, oxidize pharmaceuticals and pesticides, and change the oxidation state of heavy metals. Both reaction and adsorption mechanisms can occur during contaminant removal.

We are interested in improving the performance of non-precious metal oxide and hydroxide nanocatalysts for electrochemical reactions such as the oxygen evolution reaction. We focus on alkaline electrochemistry and work to understand how nanocatalyst synthesis parameters can be controlled to obtain specific catalyst composition, phase, and morphology. We then evaluate catalysts to understand correlations between catalyst properties and performance.

We investigate engineering solutions to challenges in agriculture related to nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient cycles. We currently are developing catalyst materials for the electrochemical reduction of nitrogen to ammonia and are interested in improving water treatment and nutrient recycling through electrochemistry.