Topic: Electrochemical and Photoelectrochemical Biomass Conversion and Desalination
Speaker: Professor Kyoung-Shin Choi - Dept of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Host: Professor Aaron Odom
Date: Monday, October 8, 2018
Time: 11:20 AM
Location: 136 CEM
Our research employs electrochemistry as the primary synthetic tool to fabricate a variety of solid state materials as thin-film type electrodes and catalysts. These materials are selected for use in electrochemical and photoelectrochemical cells that produce fuels, building block chemicals, and clean water using renewable energy sources. Our most established core research area is the development of photoelectrochemical cells for solar water splitting, which I will discuss at my seminar on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. For my seminar on Monday, October 8, I will discuss our newer research directions, electrochemical and photoelectrochemical biomass conversion and desalination. Due to growing energy demands as well as environmental concerns, the production of fuels and building block chemicals from renewable sources has become an important area of research. In particular, the use of biomass as feedstocks for fuels and key building block organic molecules holds great promise due to its abundance, accessibility, and worldwide distribution. Among the various biomass resources and intermediates, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), which can be obtained from depolymerization of cellulosic biomasses, is an important platform molecule that can produce various key organic molecules via both reduction and oxidation. We will discuss various electrochemical pathways recently developed in our group to reductively and oxidatively valorize HMF, which uses water as a hydrogen or oxygen source at ambient pressure and temperature. Another research topic to be discussed is electrochemical desalination. With the steady growth in human population as well as rapid development of industry and agriculture, access to fresh water is becoming an increasingly critical issue. Currently, thermal distillation and reverse osmosis are the two most established seawater desalination methods. We will present new electrochemical desalination methods that manage energy, water, and salts differently from conventional desalination methods, which provide more flexibility in complementarily advancing desalination applications. These studies will demonstrate the enormous potential and versatility of electrochemical and photoelectrochemical methods for biomass conversion and desalination.