A SmartState Center for Economic Excellence
The SmartState Center for Strategic Approaches to the Generation of Electricity (SAGE) is developing a broad, cutting edge research portfolio focused on novel technologies to enhance the environmental performance of electricity production, by providing sustainable solutions to industrial based research problems at a fast pace with the development of high-throughput experimentation for energy nanomaterials discovery and optimization.
As stationary sources constitute the majority of electricity generation, part of the research in the center focuses on developing novel nanomaterials for mitigating power plant pollutant emissions, catalysts for syngas production, and offsetting coal consumption in conventional coal-fired power plants via upgraded biomass feedstock by combining our nationally leading capacities, including multi-purpose high-throughput screening, advanced spectroscopic and characterization techniques, patented nanomaterial synthesis methodologies, and Artificial Intelligence based materials discovery.
Aside from the research aimed at coal powered stationary sources, electricity generation from alternative feedstock (AFs) (CO2, hydrogen, biofuels, etc.) has gained more interest, and our approaches to AFs have ranged from fuel production through CO2 hydrogenation for E-Fuels and biodiesel production to the control of emissions, such as mitigation of NOx emissions from biodiesel engines.
Currently, SAGE is also tackling the problem of hydrogen storage and transportation by developing ammonia decomposition catalysts for use in on-demand hydrogen production. Researchers in SAGE have developed and utilized machine learning methods to predict novel catalyst compositions, with predicted catalysts experimentally out-performing current state of the art catalysts while utilizing lower precious metal loadings. The center is currently working on scaling up catalyst production for use in large scale membrane reactors for commercial applications.
Areas of Research
Dr. Jochen Lauterbach and his research group work on advancing fundamental and applied research in heterogeneous catalysis and the synthesis of new nanomaterials. Our research has applications in environmental processes for hydrocarbon based power generation:
- Using alternate feedstocks (CO2 utilization) to generate chemicals and fuels
- Hydrogen generation, from ammonia and jet fuel, for mobile fuel cell applications
- Exhaust gas aftertreatment of engines running on biofuels
They use advanced spectroscopic techniques, such as photo-modulated infrared spectroscopy and infrared spectral imaging, to gain insight into molecular level processes on catalysts. They develop novel high-throughput screening methods to rapidly discover and optimize new material formulations for energy applications. The high-throughput techniques yield optimized catalysts within fractions of the time and budget of traditional sequential research strategies.