CAER / Chemistry Seminar

05/14/2019 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Ben Bandy Conference Room, CAER Lab 1
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s): 
James McKone, University of Pittsburgh, "Recent Insights into Electrocatalytic Reactions Under Exotic Conditions"

It’s Complicated: How Catalysis Impacts the Performance of Redox Flow Batteries and Water Electrolyzers

James R. McKone

Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Seminar: Tuesday, May 14th at 4pm

Location: Ben Bandy Conference Room in Lab 2, Center for Applied Energy Research, 2540 Research Park Dr, Lexington, KY 40511 (link to location)

Abstract: Our research group at the University of Pittsburgh is carrying out application-inspired basic research in electrochemistry to enable deep integration of renewable electricity into the global energy mix. This presentation will summarize ongoing work in our lab on electrocatalysis associated with redox flow batteries (RFBs) and hydrogen fuel production/utilization. RFBs often suffer from efficiency losses attributable to slow reaction kinetics, but these limitations remain poorly understood even for the most well-studied battery electrolytes. Hence, are working to critically assess and improve on electroanalytical methods that can be used to precisely characterize the kinetics of RFB redox couples. We are also pursuing the design of non-precious transition metal catalysts for reversible hydrogen evolution/oxidation in alkaline solution. Recent results suggest that some of these catalysts are limited by poor electronic conductivity rather than catalytic activity, which implies new opportunities to enhance their practical performance.

Bio: James McKone earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and music from Saint Olaf College in 2008, where he began his research career pursuing synthesis of novel heterobimetallic complexes. He holds a PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, where he developed materials and methods for solar-driven water electrolysis. From 2013 to 2016, Dr. McKone was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University studying electrocatalysis and battery energy storage. In the fall of 2016, he joined the faculty in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh as an Assistant Professor. Dr. McKone’s research group studies fundamentals and applications of electrochemistry and solid-state/materials chemistry with an eye toward improving environmental sustainability in the energy and chemical sectors.


Host: Susan Odom,

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