ISEN Flex Lab Research Spotlights
Northwestern and its research partners are using the ISEN Flex Lab to forge new frontiers in the fields of sustainability and energy.
Justin Notestein, Associate Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering, and graduate student Alex Grant are using the ISEN Flex Lab to experiment with new catalysts designed to capture ambient carbon dioxide and convert it into methanol. The small-scale reactor leverages solar energy to generate the electrical and thermal energy needed to drive water electrolysis for renewable hydrogen, direct air capture of carbon dioxide, and ultimately methanol production. The research is phase one of SOFI’s four-phase project that involves developing a safe, economically viable system to convert carbon waste into energy dense fuels.
Solid Acid Fuel Cell Stack for Distributed Generation Applications
Sossina M. Haile, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Applied Physics, is using the ISEN Flex Lab to carry out her Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Her interdisciplinary project seeks to improve the operation of electrochemical devices and has implications for fuel cells, electrochemical ammonia generation cells, and hydrogen producing electrolysis cells. Specifically, her research will prepare nanostructured electrodes incorporating the electrolyte cesium dihydrogen phosphate (CsH2PO4).
Formaldehyde and Hydrogen Reactor for Bio-methanol Upgrading
Tracy Lohr, Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry, is using the ISEN Flex Lab to experiment with a new process designed to convert bio-available methanol to formaldehyde (produced worldwide at 30 million metric tons/year) and hydrogen fuel. The bench top prototype reactor is designed to yield high single pass conversion to formaldehyde while leveraging co-produced hydrogen to fuel the process, thereby making the process energy neutral in contrast to commercial formaldehyde production. Specifically, work will focus on prototype testing for high conversions and formaldehyde capture technology.