Dr. Xiaofeng Feng of the University of Central Florida will present:
"Reducing Our Reliance on Fossil Fuels by Electrocatalytic Synthesis.
Due to the limited reserves of fossil fuels, there is a more and more urgent need to develop renewable energy technologies that can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Among numerous efforts, one promising strategy is to power the synthesis of fuels and chemicals from abundant resources using renewable energy, particularly solar- or wind-generated electricity. A rational design of electrochemical catalysts and reactors is essential for the development of efficient electrosynthesis processes, which relies on our understandings of the catalytically active sites and reaction mechanisms. Here I will present our research progress on the development of metal nanoparticle electrocatalysts and electrode-electrolyte interface for the conversion of CO2 to fuels such as ethanol as well as the reduction of N2 to ammonia, both under ambient conditions. I will show that establishing quantitative structure-activity relationships and identifying new active sites such as grain-boundary surface terminations can largely improve the activity and selectivity of metal nanocatalysts. In addition, building an efficient electrochemical reactor with optimized electrocatalytic interface can also greatly enhance the reaction performance of CO2 conversion and nitrogen fixation.