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Professor T. Alan Hatton Delivers the 2013 Gregory Botsaris Lecture

Taking Charge of Carbon Capture:
Electrochemical Strategies for Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Monday, April 1, 2013
12:00 PM
51 Winthrop Street PM
Followed by Reception

The Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering held the third Gregory Botsaris Lecture in Chemical and Biological Engineering on Monday April 1, 2013. The lecture was given by Dr. T. Alan Hatton, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere has been cited as a primary cause of global climate change and threatens global public health and welfare. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is an effective and important part of CO2 emission abatement strategies, with the major CCS efforts to date focusing on the removal of directly from large-scale carbon emitters and storing it in secure geologic reservoirs. Thermal-swing operations using aqueous base scrubbing followed by stripping at elevated temperature have been the chemical sorption processes most investigated over the past two decades for CO2 capture. Considerable quantities of steam and heat are required to release the CO2 after capture at low temperatures, and substantial parasitic energy losses result from the need to use excess steam and heat in order to meet the kinetic requirements of the process.

Electrochemically mediated separations offer a nearly isothermal alternative to the thermal-swing separation strategies typically used for CO2 capture. The driving force in these systems is supplied by changes in electrochemical potential to modulate the redox state of an active species and thereby mediate the complexation of the sorbents with CO2. These potential swings can be controlled precisely to reduce energy losses. We will discuss the operational concepts of two different strategies that exploit the isothermal electrochemical switching of separation conditions, covering adsorption, absorption and membrane processes for the capture and release of CO2 from flue gas and other emissions. The underlying physicochemical thermodynamic and transport behavior of these systems will be discussed, and an overall assessment of their potential for use in large-scale applications given.

Speaker Bio:
T. Alan Hatton is the Ralph Landau Professor and Director of the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He obtained his BSc and MSc degrees in Chemical Engineering at the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, and worked at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria for three years before attending the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to obtain his PhD. His research interests encompass self-assembly of surfactants and block copolymers, synthesis and functionalization of magnetic nanoparticles and metal-organic frameworks for chemical, biological and environmental separations and catalysis, and the exploitation of stimuli-responsive materials for chemical and pharmaceutical processing applications, with a particular current emphasis on electrochemically-mediated operations.