CSS Research Forum

Event Type: 
Cailin Buchanan and Dwarak Ravikumar
Friday, January 25, 2019 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Room 1040 Dana Building
Event Sponsor: 
Center for Sustainable Systems

Please join us for our first CSS Research Forum of Winter 2019.

Whether you are brand new to CSS or a veteran, you are strongly encouraged to come join us and hear about the work other researchers are doing.

We will serve a selection of PIES.

When: Friday, January 25, 2019 - 2:00 to 3:30 PM.
Where:  1040 Dana Building

We'll hear presentations from:

Cailin Buchanan - PhD Chemical Engineering student

Title:  Improving the kinetics of the Ce3+/Ce4+ redox reaction for application in redox flow batteries

Abstract:  A major challenge for intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, is economical energy storage. Redox flow batteries are a promising method of energy storage due to the high current and power densities achievable, ability to decouple power and energy by external storage of electrolytes, and long life times. One of the challenges in flow batteries is their cost per amount of stored energy, which can be reduced by increasing the current densities achievable while maintaining energy efficiency. The Ce3+/Ce4+ redox couple is a powerful electrochemical reaction useful to many fields, including organic synthesis, waste remediation, and energy storage. The high positive potential of the redox couple (~1.74 V vs SHE in perchloric acid) makes it especially promising for application as the positive electrode in redox flow battery (RFB) systems. Despite the applicability of the Ce3+/Ce4+ redox couple in a variety of fields, the charge transfer mechanism is not well studied, which impedes advances that could be made for the Ce3+/Ce4+ reaction, such as electrocatalyst optimization. This talk will discuss Cailin’s doctoral work to determine the mechanism of the Ce3+/Ce4+ redox reaction in order to improve the kinetics for application in RFB systems.

Bio: Cailin is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at U of M. She works in the Singh lab, which utilizes electrocatalysis techniques to address environmental topics, such as energy storage, waste water remediation, and sustainable fuels. Before beginning her doctoral work, Cailin completed a dual masters in Chemical Engineering and Sustainable Systems from the School for Environment and Sustainability. She conducted research in the Center for Sustainable Systems, using Life Cycle Analysis to investigate the effects of lightweighting shipping containers on the emissions and energy consumption of the global freight transportation system.


Dwarak Ravikumar - Post Doctoral Fellow

Title:  An anticipatory LCA approach to prioritize research and direct technology development towards environmentally favorable pathways

Abstract:  It is now common practice in environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) to conduct sensitivity analyses to identify critical parameters and prioritize further research. Typical approaches include variation of input parameters one at a time to determine the corresponding variation in characterized midpoints or normalized and weighted end points. Generally, those input parameters that cause the greatest variations in output criteria are accepted as the most important subjects of further investigation. However, in comparative LCA of emerging technologies, the typical approach to sensitivity analysis may misdirect research and development (R&D) toward addressing uncertainties that are inconsequential or counterproductive. This paper presents a novel method of sensitivity analysis for a decision-driven, anticipatory LCA of three emerging photovoltaic (PV) technologies: amorphous-Si (a-Si), CdTe and ribbon-Si. Although traditional approaches identify metal depletion as critical, a hypothetical reduction of uncertainty in metal depletion fails to improve confidence in the environmental comparison. By contrast, the novel approach directs attention toward marine eutrophication, where uncertainty reduction significantly improves decision confidence in the choice between a-Si and CdTe. The implication is that the novel method will result in better recommendations on the choice of the environmentally preferable emerging technology alternative for commercialization.


Bio: Dwarak Ravikumar is a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS). He is currently investigating the environmental trade-offs for a circular economy for carbon emissions and evaluating if it is environmentally worthwhile to utilize the captured carbon to manufacture products in the chemical and construction sectors. Dwarak’s research interests include developing environmentally improved technologies to recycle photovoltaic systems, advancing life cycle assessment methods to evaluate emerging technologies, and improving the sustainability of renewable energy systems.

Dwarak has completed his Master’s and PhD in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering from Arizona State University (ASU).

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