Presenter: Prof. Jose Mendoza (Florida State University)
Topic: Density Functional Theory and its Applications to Clean and Sustainable Energy: Towards
the Carbon Neutral Holy Grail
Time: 02:00PM, April 20th (Wednesday)
Location: Conference Room G, BLDG 909
Computational chemistry and materials science algorithms are now powerful enough that they can predict many properties of materials and molecules before they are synthesized. By implementing and developing new approaches to calculate materials and chemical properties in supercomputers, we have predicted over 100,000 materials for energy storage and catalysis. The computations predicted several new materials which were made and tested in the lab, leading to the discovery and development of five new materials that overcome the DOE-targets for methane and molecular hydrogen storage as well as new mechanistic insights allowing to design better catalysis. The intend of all this work is towards developing an alternative way to generate and tore energy; i.e. conversion of sunlight into chemical fuels.
Our approach is thus inspired in Nature, where sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide is converted o chemical fuels called carbohydrates. However, we intend to convert sunlight and water into nother fuel called molecular hydrogen. The advantage of “burning" molecular hydrogen is that it can generate electricity and as only side product is water vapor. Thus we can close the cycle and approach a carbon neutral source of energy and storage that can restored. In a recent effort to close the loop towards a possible sustainable and clean energy, we found a new strategy for tuning the band gap of layered materials to capture light which may couple to its intrinsic water-splitting catalytic properties, thus resembling photosynthesis. What this means is that we can capture sunlight effectively with abundant and cheap elements, which is also good at converting water into molecular Hydrogen and Oxygen. This is a promising building block to make the entire process sustainable.
Our ultimate goal is to use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide and generate chemical fuels easier to handle such as methanol or ethanol. We will present our first efforts done in this direction.
2014 PDF, University of California,Berkeley/ Berkeley Lab
2013 Staff Scientist, California Institute of Technology
2012 Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
2010 M.Sc., California Institute of Technology
2008 B.Sc., Tecnologico de Monterrey (ITESM)
2006-2008 B.Sc.Int., University of California, Los Angeles