11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Molecularly Inspired Electrocatalysts for Water Splitting and Water Treatment
Dino Villagrán, Ph.D.
Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso
Tuesday Sep. 26th | Seminar 11 AM – 12 PM
Classroom Building CR 170
The Villagran group is interested in targeting problems of energy, and environmental chemistry primarily focusing on synthetic methodologies and in the development of physical measurements and computational and theoretical studies. We use advanced synthetic techniques to prepare novel materials at the molecular, surface, and nanoparticle levels. One of our motivations is the rapid depletion of non-renewable resources and their related combustion issues that require the development of alternative energy sources with zero carbon footprint. Hydrogen is an ideal energy carrier due to its high energy density compared with conventional fossil fuels and because water is its only combustion by-product. This talk will describe our research group's efforts towards the rational design of molecular-based electrocatalysts to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Several strategies to heterogenize molecular catalysts will be described. A second motivation for our group is the necessity of water treatment alternatives locally and globally. This talk will discuss our current efforts towards the development of engineered nanomaterials for decentralized water treatment approaches. The rational synthetic development of electrochemically-enabled nanomaterials that efficiently remove and sense priority pollutants (such as PFAS and nitrates) and scalants (such as silica) will be discussed.
About the Speaker
Dino was born in Mexico City, and raised in the Mexican northern state of Chihuahua. During his undergraduate studies, he attended the University of Texas at El Paso, across the border to Juarez, Mexico. During his time at UTEP, Dino worked on theoretical chemistry and group theory problems under the advising of Prof. M. L. Ellzey. His graduate work at Texas A&M University in the group of Prof. F. A. Cotton focused on the studies of Electron-Transfer mechanisms and their effect on the electronic structure and geometry of multiply bonded bimetallic systems. Upon graduation, Dino was awarded the Environmental Chemistry Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus foundation, and he worked in the laboratory of Prof. Daniel G. Nocera at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied the cooperative effect of hydrogen producing electrocatalysts and in studies concerning the electronic structure of metaloxos. He then returned to his alma mater, UTEP, in 2011, where he has worked in the physical and inorganic subdivisions targeting problems of energy, and environmental chemistry and where he currently is a full professor. His group research is currently supported by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Energy, and the Welch Foundation.