Staff Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Materials Science Division, Materials for Energy and Climate Security
The current landscape of resources necessitates the development of new processes that can transform 21st century chemical feedstocks into fuels and chemicals. The emerging trend of cost-effective renewable energy technologies rapidly penetrating the energy sector suggests that there are exciting opportunities to reimagine how and where the chemical industry upgrades these molecules. The Hahn laboratory conducts research on technologies that can couple to cheap renewable electricity and enable efficient electron-driven chemical transformations. These technologies will play a key role in this vision of a sustainable future by potentially displacing traditionally heat-driven processes and/or establishing new pathways to compounds that are typically derived from petrochemicals. As research on these technologies are still at an early stage, a central challenge in this endeavor will be to understand the key factors governing reactivity for the growth or breakdown of complex organic molecules in electrochemical systems. To address this growing need, the Hahn laboratory bridges the fields of heterogeneous catalysis and organic electrosynthesis to develop efficient electron-driven chemical transformations of CO2, O2, and biomass-derived feedstocks. Our research spans the following complementary areas: reactor design, understanding electron transfer mechanisms from electrodes, guiding selectivity in complex reaction environments, and steering cascade reactions.