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Irving Institute Awards New Faculty Seed Grants for Energy and Climate Research

Jun 28, 2024   |   Irving Institute

The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society announced nearly $500,000 in awards to six energy- and climate-related research projects through the Institute's Faculty Seed Grant Program, including two projects led by Dartmouth Engineering faculty. The projects embody the grant program's mission to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among Dartmouth researchers.

Engineering professors Ian Baker, Geoffroy Hautier, and Yan Li.

The program, which re-launched in fall 2023 with a call for proposals from Dartmouth faculty and staff, is aimed at supporting and catalyzing research and education that will have a near-term impact (five to ten years) on climate and energy challenges faced by society.

Searching for New Rare-Earth-Free High-Performance Permanent Magnets

Project Leadership Team: Ian Baker, Sherman Fairchild Professor of Engineering; Sarah Slotznick, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences; Geoffroy Hautier, Hogdson Family Associate Professor of Engineering

The electrification of global energy systems is an essential component of the clean energy transition. Yet the high-performance electric motors and generators that power things like wind turbines and electric vehicles currently rely on magnets made of critical rare-earth materials that are challenging to obtain, costly, and environmentally damaging to extract. Thus, there is an urgent need to find new permanent rare-earth free magnets to power the carbon-free energy transition.

Historically, identifying new materials has been slow because of the time-consuming experiments needed to identify and characterize thousands of potential candidates. The project team was recently awarded an Irving Institute seed grant to support new work that will combine a theory-driven computational screening with experimental synthesis and characterization to accelerate the search for new rare-earth-free permanent magnets. "Such a new magnet will be a game-changer to our transition towards a society relying less on fossil fuels," explains the team in the project proposal. If successful, the team envisions the potential of this project to lead to the commercialization of a new low-cost, rare-earth-free permanent magnet within five to ten years.

3D Printing Enhanced Catalysis for Energy Conversion and Production

Project team: Yan Li, Assistant Professor of Engineering; Abhishek Singh, Engineering Research Associate; Ya Tang, engineering PhD student; Andrew Kim and Jace Henry, engineering sciences majors.

Catalysts are substances that can accelerate chemical reactions without consuming themselves. They play a crucial role in various industrial processes, including petrochemical refining, chemical synthesis, wastewater treatment, and CO2 capture and removal. Traditional catalysts (e.g., pellets) typically have mass and heat transfer limitations due to their inherent geometric constraints and material properties. While 3D printing of catalysts can address geometric constraints, it still requires optimization to ensure uniformity of material composition and structural integrity throughout the printed catalysts.

In this project, the team will work to optimize the architectural design and processing parameters of 3D printed catalysts, aiming to achieve a balance between efficient thermal transport while ensuring robust mechanical integrity. The team will collaborate with Oak Ridge National Lab (a Department of Energy lab) while leveraging Dartmouth expertise in material design and additive manufacturing to overcome obstacles in renewable energy adoption.

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