Gibbons Takes Second at GRID Session for Presentation on New Catalyst for Solar Thermal CyclesDepartment of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) graduate student and John and Maureen Hendricks Energy Research Fellow Will Gibbons, advised by University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) associate director Professor Greg Jackson (Department of Mechanical Engineering), received second place the "Addressing Environmental and Energy Issues" division at the University of Maryland's 2012 Graduate Research and Interaction Day (GRID).
Gibbons' presentation described his creation of electrospun, ceria-based ceramic fibers for use in solar thermal energy production cycles. The material is designed to serve as a catalyst in an endothermic process that focuses sunlight into the intense heat required to split water or carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas, which can in turn be used to produce fuels.
"The overall idea is a lot like an inorganic photosynthesis that uses CO2, water, and concentrated sunlight concentrated to produce renewable hydrocarbon fuels," he explains. "My work is focused on the production and characterization of the materials that could play a role in such a process."
The materials previously proposed for use in solar thermal cycling have suffered from poor stability and slow kinetics due to low bulk material-to-surface area ratios. Gibbons and his colleagues have found that their ceramic fibers address both of these problems, and have also proposed an easy, inexpensive and high-output production technique for their production.
GRID, which is run by the Graduate Student Government, is a campus-wide event in which graduate students from all parts of the university present and discuss their work with faculty and fellow students, enabling them to receive feedback from a broader audience and perfect their conference presentation skills. Participants make oral and poster presentations that are judged in a variety of categories by faculty, postdoctoral fellows, administrators, and other specialists from around campus.
For more information and a video about Gibbons' work, see our related story, "Award Funds Development of Catalyst for Renewable Fuel Production."
Published April 30, 2012