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Our Research Mission

Scientists in Brookhaven's Chemistry Division conduct basic and applied chemical research with an emphasis on new energy conversion pathways.

Primary research subjects include catalysis and electrocatalysis for sustainable fuel synthesis and use, solar energy conversion to fuels, fundamental gas and condensed phase molecular dynamics, radiation chemistry, and advanced chemical separations for energy applications. Fundamental studies of neutrino properties are also conducted in several international collaborations in nuclear and particle physics. 

  1. AUG

    6

    Monday

    Chemistry Department Seminar

    "Synthesis of Fuels and Chemicals by Electroreduction over Copper Catalysts"

    Presented by Elizabeth J. Biddinger, The City College of New York, CUNY

    11 am, Room 300 - 3rd Flr. Chemistry Bldg. 555

    Monday, August 6, 2018, 11:00 am

    Hosted by: Sanjaya Senanayake

    Electrochemical synthesis methods offer opportunities to perform reactions under benign reaction conditions (at or near room temperature and pressure), use less harmful or waste-generating reaction steps, and perform selective reactions. In electroreduction reactions, externally-supplied hydrogen that is generally needed for reduction is not required. Rather, electrons, frequently paired with the electrolyte, are the reducing agents. New opportunities for utilization of electrochemical reactions exist with the emerging renewable electricity generation market. Due to the intermittent supply sources for many renewable electricity systems, excess electricity gets generated when peak generation (sunny or windy periods) does not match with demand. Electrochemical reactions can be performed at relatively low costs with this excess electricity to synthesize fuels for later use or chemicals. The work presented here will illustrate two synthesis systems via electroreduction – carbon dioxide electroreduction to hydrocarbons and furfural (a biomass-derived species) electrochemical hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis (ECH) to fuels and chemicals. Both of these reactions are performed over copper electrodes, serving as the catalysts for the system. Copper is utilized because of its unique balance between being active for the electroreduction and less active for the undesired side reaction hydrogen evolution. In CO2 electroreduction, copper is the only known metal to produce significant quantities of hydrocarbons. By tuning the morphology, the selectivity between ethylene and methane can be tuned. The results of morphological differences and the dynamic nature of copper surfaces will be discussed in terms of electrodeposition and the resulting CO2 electroreduction performance. In furfural ECH, both 2-methyl furan and furfuryl alcohol can be formed, while over many other metals 2-methyl furan is not formed. The reaction conditions for furfural ECH si

Artificial Photosynthesis

Advances fundamental knowledge of chemical systems to convert sunlight to viable chemical fuels, inspired by natural photosynthesis, in which green plants convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates.

Catalysis: Reactivity and Structure

Pursues an improved understanding of chemical catalysis for advanced fuels synthesis and energy conversion processes by elucidating catalytically important properties of well-defined surfaces, powders and nanostructures.

Electrochemical Energy Storage

Conducts research on both fundamental and applied problems relating to electrochemical energy storage systems and materials including lithium-ion, lithium-air, lithium-sulfur, and sodium-ion rechargeable batteries; electrochemical super-capacitors; and cathode, anode, and electrolyte materials.

Electron- and Photo-Induced Processes

Applies both photoexcitation and ionization by short pulses of fast electrons to investigate fundamental chemical problems relevant to the production and efficient use of energy 

Gas Phase Molecular Dynamics

Develops and applies high resolution spectroscopic and quantum theoretic tools to study the structure, dynamics, and chemical reactivity of molecular species relevant to hydrocarbon combustion.

Neutrino and Nuclear Chemistry

Participates in international collaborations including Low Energy Neutrino Spectroscopy (LENS), "SNO+", the Daya Bay neutrino experiment, and the long-baseline neutrino experiment (LBNE)

Surface Chemical Dynamics

Works to understand the underlying physical processes that determine the products and yield of chemical transformations relevant to energy-related chemistry on catalytic and nanostructured surfaces. 

Surface Electrochemistry and Electrocatalysis

Explores problems of electrocatalysis of fuel cell reactions focusing on platinum monolayer (PtML) electrocatalysts for the O2 reduction reaction, the electrocatalysts for ethanol and methanol oxidation to CO2, H2 evolution and H2 oxidation reactions. 

Structure and Dynamics of Applied Nanomaterials

Studies mechanisms of work of advanced functional nanomaterials by elucidating the nature of their active species by situ/operando methods of spectroscopy, scattering and imaging.

The Chemistry Division is part of Brookhaven National Laboratory's Energy & Photon Sciences Directorate.