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December Newsletter: Page 3

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Professor Roy’s Research Group at CAMP Uses Electroanalytical Techniques to Evaluate Electrode Materials for Direct Alcohol Fuel Cells

Direct alcohol alkaline fuel cells (DAAFCs) represent a rapidly developing branch of the alternative energy technologies. Cost effective fuels, often available as biodiesel derivatives, are directly used in these cells to generate electricity through electro-catalytic reactions (as opposed to relying on intermediate steps to generate hydrogen fuel). Thus, the fuel and the oxygen are directly oxidized and reduced at the anode and the cathode of the cell, respectively, without generating environmentally undesirable byproducts. The fuel is delivered from a refillable reservoir, and hence the supply of energy is continuous in as long as the fuel is available. This is a specific advantage of a fuel cell over a battery, since the active material (incorporated in the device itself) of the latter requires electrochemical reactions to recharge, and hence involves additional time to complete these recharge reactions.  In recent years, DAAFCs have found a variety of applications, especially in portable electronics for both consumer and military utilities.  

A specific topic that has recently generated considerable research activities in the field of DAAFCs is the development and evaluation of effective electrode materials for these devices. Professor Roy’s research group at CAMP is actively exploring this topic using state- of- the- art electroanalytical techniques, and focusing primarily on the anode materials necessary to support the electrocatalytic reactions of various alcohol fuels. The goal of this effort is to design (and screen) cost-effective anodes based on composites of traditional and non-traditional catalyst materials for alcohol oxidation at moderate temperatures. The anode characterization techniques used by Roy’s group include: different types of voltammetry (scan-rate and scan-range controlled, using stationary as well as rotating disc electrodes under different hydrodynamic conditions), electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) of both potentiostatic and galvanostatic types, galvanodynamic polarization, chrono-amperometry,  and current-interruption measurements, combined with scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analyses. The temperature controlled experiments involve both two- and three-electrode tests using a variety of fuels, with mixed- as well as individual material components of anode catalysts.    

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Professor Zijie Yan Joins CAMP

 Dr. Yan

Assistant Professor Zijie Yan  

Dr. Zijie Yan recently joined CAMP.  He received his Ph.D. in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and worked as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago before joining Clarkson University.  Now he is an assistant professor in the University’s Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.

Professor Yan’s research interests include synthesis of nanomaterials, optoelectronic and photochemical properties of materials, optical trapping and manipulation, laser beam shaping, and laser processing of materials. Using both theoretical and experimental approaches, his work has resulted in more than 40 peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals with over 800 citations. Professor Yan is a member of the Materials Research Society (MRS). He has given presentations at MRS and SPIE (the International Society for Optics and Photonics) meetings, and attended CAMP’s 2015 Annual Technical meeting.