I am interested in sustainable energy, climate change mitigation, and figuring out the how to decarbonize our economy. I like to think that my research is at the nexus of engineering, economics, and energy policy.
Broadly speaking, my research focuses on investigating how the use of small-scale modular infrastructure creates an array of new possibilities for redesigning our current energy system. I am investigating the use of reversible solid oxide fuel cells for the development of sustainable liquid fuels (using recycled CO2), and how these fuels can be used as stable high-energy density storage vectors. I am also working on the development of small-scale in-situ fertilizer production that does not use natural gas as a feedstock.
Reversible solid-oxide fuel cells for energy storage
Reversible solid-oxide fuel cells (RSOFC) are a technology that can efficiently operate either as a fuel cell or as an electrolyzer. Depending on the mode of operation, a RSOFC can be used to store electricity in the form of a chemical fuel (electrolysis mode) or can produce power by utilizing the fuel (fuel cell mode). The introduction of RSOFCs into the energy system requires a detailed understanding of how the technology behaves across a range of pricing scenarios (electricity and fuel), capital costs, and how the cell degrades under different operating conditions. I am currently investigating the possibility of using high-temperature RSOFC to make sustainable methanol (using recycled or air captured CO2). This methanol can then be utilized as a stable and cheap energy storage vector that can participate in hourly, daily or seasonal energy markets.
Small-scale sustainable fertilizer
In conjunction with the Agriculture and Food Security Center at the Earth Institute, we are investigating the feasibility and affordability of small-scale on-site fertilizer production. Using ingredients readily available in the environment – nitrogen from the air, energy from the sun, and water – we aim to produce nitrogen fertilizer on site. This would drastically reduce the life-cylce CO2 emissions of fertilizer production, and could be a game-changer for small farmers in remote locations. For more information click here