HydroGEN Collaborates with Four National Science Foundation Energy Materials Research Projects

March 1, 2019

The HydroGEN consortium has entered into new collaborations with four National Science Foundation (NSF) projects linking academic research in energy materials with the Department of Energy EERE Energy Materials Network, leveraging the world class capability nodes of the national-labs.

Four innovative energy material research projects, anchored at Pennsylvania State University, the Colorado School of Mines, and University at Buffalo, were selected to work with the HydroGEN cross-lab consortium.

HydroGEN team members at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) will add their expertise and capabilities to the research projects, which are already underway through the NSF Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF) program.

The projects are summarized here, and more information is available at the linked HydroGEN Data Hub pages:

  • Membrane Databases—New Schema and Dissemination. Low-Temperature Electrolysis (LTE): This project has generated a wealth of new chemical structures for anion exchange membranes, new fundamental materials data on these materials, and computationally-led design motifs for improvements in membrane properties. Pennsylvania State University, along with NIST’s Center for Hierarchical Materials Design and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will work with HydroGEN experts at NREL to document the approximately 200 materials, cataloged from their own work and from literature, and to construct a durable database for functional polymeric materials that has fidelity across national platforms.
  • Experimental Validation of Designed Photocatalysts for Solar Water Splitting. Photoelectrochemical (PEC)-focus: This research has enabled the development of an accelerated screening protocol to identify photocatalysts for hydrogen generation. This protocol exploits first-principles capabilities beyond conventional electronic-structure methods to predict optical properties and redox potentials. In this protocol, the ability to synthesize the proposed photocatalysts is ensured by a comprehensive survey of the experimental literature. Over the past months, the team has completed a first iteration of this screening cycle, leading to the identification of ~30 photocatalysts and the testing of 9 of these compounds, with 4 of them exhibiting photocatalytic activity. The Pennsylvania State University and Cornell University will work with HydroGEN experts at NREL to characterize the photocatalytic activity of the newly synthesized samples.
  • Collaborative Research: A Blueprint for Photocatalytic Water Splitting: Mapping Multidimensional Compositional Space to Simultaneously Optimize Thermodynamics and Kinetics. Photoelectrochemical (PEC): The research so far has produced high-performance binary hetero-structured catalysts for photocatalytic water splitting, as well as active edge sites of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), thought to mediate hydrogen evolution. University at Buffalo, along with Texas A&M University and Binghamton University, will collaborate with HydroGEN experts at LBNL to tether MoS2 nanosheets to II-VI quantum dot solar harvesters of the photocatalysts. This will accelerate progress to commercially viable earth-abundant catalysts by providing an additional interface to optimize.
  • High Temperature Defects: Linking Solar Thermochemical and Thermoelectric Materials. Solar Thermochemical (STCH): This project is developing a framework to predict defects and dopant properties through an iterative loop between first-principles defect thermodynamic calculations, experimental phase boundary mapping, and atomic-scale structural investigations at national user facilities. Colorado School of Mines, along with University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, will work with HydroGEN experts at NREL to develop a publicly available database that unites the DMREF and HydroGEN defect work and use this combined database to understand and identify new solar thermochemical and thermoelectric material candidates.