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Wells and Hulka Fellowships Support Exciting Energy Technologies

Wells and Hulka Fellowships Support Exciting Energy Technologies

Funded by the Wells and Hulka Fellowships for the 2015 - 2016 academic year, three A. James Clark School of Engineering graduate students will conduct transformative energy research at the University of Maryland.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) graduate student Mann Sakbodin (advised by Assistant Professor Dongxia Liu) and Department of Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) graduate student Thomas Hays (advised by Eric Wachsman) have received the Harry K. Wells Graduate Fellowships. The $20,000 awards, made possible by a $400,000 endowment from Harry K. Wells (B.S ’43, mechanical engineering), support graduate research in the field of sustainable energy generation or storage.  

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) graduate student Yiqing Wu (advised by Assistant Professor Dongxia Liu) has received the Hulka Energy Research Fellowship. This one-year award is also $20,000, and is supported by an annual gift from Ms. Barbara Hulka.  

Mann Sakbodin — Non-Oxidative Dehydroaromatization of Methane via Ceramic Membrane Reactor
The non-oxidative dehydroaromatization of methane (MDA) has great potential to directly convert methane into higher hydrocarbons and hydrogen. However, intrinsic kinetics and thermodynamics of the reaction have been problematic in trying to commercialize the process.  Mann will consider the technique of shifting the reaction equilibrium in order to increase the methane conversion by continuously removing hydrogen from the product stream via ceramic membrane reactor. His research offers a unique opportunity to develop a novel membrane reactor for the highly active MDA process.

Thomas Hays — Tunable SOFC Anode Porosity Using Aligned Sacrificial Fibers
Thomas is building upon novel techniques to fabricate Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) anodes with a controlled porosity structure as well as exploring new fabrication techniques. Inclusion of sacrificial pore formers followed by burn-out and catalyst infiltration has resulted in improved anode structures. This study will build upon that success by using pore formers with high aspect ratio. Carbon fibers and carbon nanotubes will be used as pore formers and their orientation will be controlled through the use of strong AC electric fields.  Thomas plans to reveal valuable information about how porosity structure affects anode performance, ultimately improving the design and fabrication techniques for SOFCs.

Yiqing Wu — Lignin to Aromatic Fuels/Chemicals: Unilamellar Zeolite Catalysts for Selective Cleavage of Carbon-Oxygen Bonds (C-O) in Aryl Ethers
Yiqing seeks to create transformative ways of converting lignobiomass carbon sources to value-added fuels and chemicals.  Lignocellulosic biomass is an important feedstock for the renewable production of fuels, chemicals, and energy. Yiqing plans to (i) synthesize hierarchical lamellar zeolite catalysts with desired topologies and functionalities, (ii) assess the catalytic rate and selectivity of zeolite catalysts in biomass decomposition reactions, and (iii) understand the reaction chemistry and kinetics to create one-step selective and cost-efficient biomass-to-aromatics catalytic process.

Requests for proposals (RFPs) for next year’s Wells and Hulka Fellowships will be announced on the UMERC webpage in late Fall 2015.

March 13, 2015


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