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Funds for summer research awarded to seven undergraduates

Seven undergraduates have been awarded research funds from the Peter B. Lewis Fund for Student Innovation in Energy and the Environment. This competitive funding supports undergraduate research on energy- and environment-related projects, particularly for field work and laboratory research. The recipients will spend eight weeks this summer working under the guidance of a faculty advisor. The abstracts below describe how the recipients’ research topics are aimed at providing practical solutions for energy- and environment-related challenges. The 2011 recipients can be viewed here.

Alexander Beebe ’13

(Faculty Advisor – Alexander J. Smits, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

Title: An investigation into aerodynamics and efficiency of verticle axis wind turbines
Abstract: Despite the advantages of low maintenance and independence of wind direction, VAWTs designs are poorly understood when compared to the more prevalent HAWT design.  My project will focus on studying the efficiency and practical, large-scale application of VAWTs.

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Kavya Desai ’13

(Faculty Advisor – Bruce E. Koel, Chemical and Biological Engineering)

Title:  Novel multimetallic electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction in fuel cells
Abstract: My project involves fabricating novel alloys (synthesized by vapor deposition in ultrahigh vacuum) and then testing their electrochemical performance by using cyclic voltammetry and polarization measurements of oxygen reduction kinetics. I will assist in spectroscopic characterization of the synthesized model electrocatalysts, along with characterization of related nanoparticles that can be used as practical electrocatalysts.

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Benjamin Foulon ’13

(Faculty Advisor – Craig B. Arnold, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

Title: Metal-organic framework materials for energy storage
Abstract: I will research metal-organic-frameworks (MOFs) for energy and gas storage applications. MOFs are complex coordination compounds that are typically very porous and so could be used in theory to store gases or to intercalate ions in batteries.

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James Martino ’13

(Faculty Advisor – Michael C. McAlpine, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

Title: Thermal energy harvesting via size-enhanced pyroelectricity in PZT NWs
Abstract: Pyroelectric materials may be useable to convert low-grade waste heat from buildings into electricity and to provide portable power generation. The research objectives here are two-fold: investigation of size-scaling effects in the pyroelectric efficiency of lead zirconate titanate nanowires as a function of diameter and investigation of integrated circuits for optimal energy harvesting.

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Andrew Mayfield ’13

(Faculty Advisor – David MacMillan, Chemistry)

Title: New catalytic methods for the β-functionalization of aldehydes
Abstract: Study of photoredox catalysis, particularly looking for new, environmentally friendly reaction methodologies for beta-functionalization of saturated aldehydes. A catalytic method to perform this class of chemical transformations would allow simpler and more efficient synthesis of certain biologically relevant molecules.

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Mariam Wahed ’14

(Faculty Advisor – Sigrid M. Adriaenssens, Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Title: Validation of structural and environmental performance optimization tool in plant building design
Abstract:  Using techniques in structural optimization and form finding, my project seeks to develop more energy efficient methods for constructing large span shells for use in factory buildings.

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Anna Wuttig ’13

(Faculty Advisors – Andrew B. Bocarsly and Robert J. Cava, Chemistry)

Title: Novel metal oxide-based electrodes for photochemical CO2 reduction
Abstract: Synthesis, characterization and electrochemical evaluation of copper-based delafossite compounds will be conducted to discover new, potentially more efficient solid-state light-assisted electrodes for solar energy-to-fuels conversion.

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