MSE Seminar: Dr. Eric Detsi, University of Pennsylvania
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
3117 Computer Science Instructional Center (CSI) Bldg #406
301 405 5888
Liquid Metals and Non-Precious Nanoporous Metals for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage
Abstract: Non-conventional materials such liquid metals and non-precious nanoporous metals could play a critical role in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy technologies. For example, renewable energy can be stored in Earth-abundant metals (such as Al, Mg, Zn, and Fe) simply by creating these metals with minimum carbon footprint. Indeed, most metals exhibit a much higher volumetric energy density than coal and gasoline. By activating these metals through nanostructuring, they can release energy upon reaction with oxygen (i.e. dry metal fuel oxidation) or water (i.e. wet metal fuel oxidation). For example, burning Fe metal as a fuel will release twice as much energy as burning the same volume of coal or gasoline; and burning Al metal will release three times as much energy as burning the same volume of coal or gasoline. In this talk, I will discuss how we activate water-reactive metals like Al and Mg using air-free electrolytic dealloying,[2,3] and use these metals to release energy in the form of heat and chemical bonds (hydrogen) through hydrolysis (i.e. wet metal fuel oxidation). [2,3,4,5] After energy is extracted through oxidation, the solid reaction products, in the form of metal (hydr)oxides, can be converted back into pure metals through reduction using sustainable energy resources such as hydropower, solar power and wind power to enable a sustainable metal fuel economy.  A metal or metalloid can also release energy when used as an alloy anode in a Li-, Na-, K- or Mg-ion battery. However, high-capacity metal-ion battery alloy anodes suffer from rapid failure due to the phase transformations accompanying reversible alloying reactions during (dis)charging. These phase transformations give rise to huge volume changes that soon break the electrode materials, sometimes only after a few cycles. In this talk, I will discuss our efforts on using liquid metals to overcome these issues. We have developed liquid metals and fusible alloys that undergo a solid-liquid instead of a solid-solid transformation during (dis)charging; as a result, such failures are eliminated.
BIO: Dr. Eric Detsi Associate Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and Undergraduate Chair. He received his B.Sc. (2006), M.Sc. (2008), and Ph.D. (2012) degrees in Applied Physics at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Before joining Penn, he conducted research at the Department of Chemistry at UCLA (2013-2016) as a Dutch Science Foundation Rubicon Postdoctoral. His current research involves using liquid metals and non-precious nanoporous materials such as nanoporous magnesium, aluminum, silicon, antimony, and tin for electrochemical energy conversion and storage. Dr Detsi has published over 57 peer-reviewed papers, and he hold 5 patents/invention disclosures. He is lead PI on a multi-institutional NSF Future Manufacturing Research Grant. He is a recipient of a CAREER Award from NSF, and the S. Reid Warren Jr. Award from Penn for stimulating and guiding the intellectual and professional development of Penn undergraduate students. He is also a Journal of Materials Chemistry A Emerging Investigator.