The BiSSL group joins 1 of 16 teams that have been selected for NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Grant

NSF’s Convergence Accelerator is developing use-inspired solutions to address challenges aligned to the manufacturing, reuse and recycling of critical materials and products. The BiSSL group joins one of sixteen teams that have been selected for the program’s Track I: Sustainable Materials for Global Challenges.

The project is titled: Toward Water Circularity: Mining Green Hydrogen and Value-Added Materials from Hypersaline Brines, and is led by Oregon State University. The team is made up of: Dr. Zhenxing Feng (PI), Dr. Alex Chang (Co-PI), Dr. Astrid Layton (Co-PI), and Dr. Kelsey Stoerzinger (Co-PI). Feng, Chang, and Stoerzinger are all at Oregon State University in the Department of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering.

ABSTRACT. This track I NSF’s Convergence Accelerator aims to converge advances in fundamental materials science with innovative design and manufacturing methods to couple their end-use and full life-cycle considerations for environmentally- and economically sustainable materials and products. Guided by this principle and motivated by the global goal of Net-Zero Emissions by 2050, this project focuses on demonstration of a sustainable production and manufacturing process for large-scale hydrogen deployment and critical materials mining from earth’s abundant hypersaline brines (e.g., seawater). Hydrogen is a green fuel that can help accelerate decarbonization processes, and materials such as Lithium and Rare Earth elements that are critical to U.S. supply chain independence. This project emphasizes transformation from a linear to a circular economy; it enables a convergent, innovative team of universities, industry partners, government agencies, and students/trainees to ensure that the knowledge developed transitions effectively into many aspects of practice. The proposed circular use of water for fuel by renewable energy and extraction of critical materials for renewable energy production has broad societal impacts for a sustainable future. This project integrates multidisciplinary thinking into the undergraduate and K-12 curriculum, producing future engineers and scientists with skills and interests to work on multidisciplinary problems. This research supports and benefits the local community, such as the Oregon Coast’s Blue Sector Partnership Network consisting of partners from workforce development, school districts (CTE), industry, government, research, maritime, municipalities, and blue technology.

This proposal aims to demonstrate the sustainable mining of green hydrogen in parallel with value-added critical elements from hypersaline brines (e.g., seawater) for clean energy applications. Motivated by the global goal of Net-Zero Emissions by 2050, circular economy principles guide our development of sustainable processes for materials/fuels production, utilization, and recycling. Seawater represents the most abundant resource on the earth, with immense surface accessibility and large amounts of solubilized elements imperative for clean energy technologies. Seawater can also be split using renewable energy (e.g., solar) to obtain hydrogen fuel, with benign oxygen gas as a byproduct. Hydrogen presents a zero-emission fuel (producing water in a fuel cell), part of a circular sustainable process. Developing an integrated solution for extracting hydrogen and critical elements from seawater requires a multidisciplinary team from universities, industry partners, government agencies, and students/trainees. With our patented technologies and research results in critical areas, we aim to integrate multidisciplinary knowledge, tools, and modes of thinking under the guidance of circular economy principles to accelerate and converge our research to two integrated prototypes: a mineral-water separation reactor and downstream electrolyzer (producing hydrogen from the reduced-saline effluent). In addition to this prototyping, we will also identify in Phase 1 additional areas of expertise through team activities to prepare our Phase 2 project. In parallel, we will engage local stakeholders (focused on the Oregon Coast with our local expertise) and create training programs to educate next-generation workforces with innovative circular concepts in both Phases.

Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Team for “Matrix Trays: Waste to Opportunities”

Matrix Trays: Waste to Opportunities, a seed grant project supported by Texas A&M’s President’s Excellence Fund, funded a Mechanical Engineering senior design/capstone team with myself and Dr. Ahmed Ali from the Architecture department as their advisors. Read more about the project here: “Student-designed smart shades reflect a more sustainable future

“The project focused on taking a very common industry byproduct, a single-use matrix tray used for placing small electronic chips, and conceiving and prototyping a new product that would use the trays that removed them from the waste stream,” Layton said. “This goal aligns with those of a circular economy where the label ‘waste’ is removed by recognizing existing value. The students were given free rein in their concept generation, a freedom that resulted in an exciting final product with significant potential for future work.”

Assistant professors Drs. Astrid Layton (MEEN) and Kate Davis (ECE) are awarded the Texas A&M Energy Institute’s 4th Annual Energy Seed Grant

“Bio-Inspired Design of Complex Energy Systems to Achieve Robust, Efficient, and Sustainable Networks”

Proposals were assessed based on the following criteria: (a) innovative and transformative potential of proposed research work in energy; (b) quality of interdisciplinary research group; (c) potential for developing a successful proposal for government funding; and (d) potential for securing external government funding.

Read more about the 4th annual Texas A&M Energy Institute’s Energy Seed Grant awardees here…

Layton and Collaborators win a T3 Texas A&M Triads for Transformation grant “Matrix Trays: From Waste To Opportunities”

Collaborative work on “Matrix Trays: From Waste To Opportunities” between Dr. Astrid LaytonDr. Ahmed Ali from Architecture, and Dr. Ankit Srivastava from Material Science and Engineering has resulted in tae T3 award from Texas A&M’s Presidents Excellence Fund. T3: Texas A&M Triads for Transformation is a multidisciplinary seed-grant program that is part of the President’s Excellence Fund designed to further Texas A&M University’s commitments to the three pillars of advancing transformational learning; enhancing discovery and innovation and expanding impact on our community, state, nation, and world.

The first initiative in the 10-year, $100 million President’s Excellence Fund—T3: Texas A&M Triads for Transformation—recently closed the first round and 100 innovative interdisciplinary projects were selected for funding. The fund will invest approximately $3 million annually in T3 projects. read more here…