Cottrell College Science Awards - 2015
Towards a Chemical Rationale for Redox-Induced Electron Transfer
Although the electron is the smallest component of an atom, its behavior has huge implications for everything in the material world – including, quite possibly, our future renewable energy supplies.
Richard L. Lord, assistant professor of chemistry at Grand Valley State University, has received a Cottrell College Science Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement to explore new pathways for coaxing common metals to aid in the production of renewable fuels.
Specifically, Lord and his students are looking for ways to make common metals such as iron, cobalt or nickel effective in a process called “multi-electron redox catalysis.”
When it comes to creating burnable fuel, redox catalysis generally requires a rare metal such as ruthenium or platinum to contribute electrons to some other element, usually oxygen or carbon, thereby causing a chemical transformation that yields enough high-energy material to process into fuel. Unfortunately, the fuels produced by this transformation are costly, due in part to the use of these expensive metals.
Lord and his students seek to develop computational protocols that will identify the most efficient ways to modify common metals with additional molecules -- called ligands – to create new and inexpensive metal complexes that enable multi-electron redox catalysis.