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Goodwin Lecture

David G. Goodwin Memorial Lecture

October 3, 2024, 4:00 PM
Jim and Sandy Hall Auditorium, 135 Gates-Thomas
Reception to follow in Gates-Thomas 235

David G. Goodwin

The Lecture is in memory of David G. Goodwin, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, Emeritus, who passed away on November 11, 2012. Professor Goodwin was best known for developing ways to grow thin films of high-purity diamond. Diamond films—transparent, scratch-resistant, and efficient dissipaters of the heat generated by high-powered computer chips—are now routinely used to protect electronic and optical components, and diamond-coated drill bits can be found at any hardware store.

The Lecture will be held annually and is made possible by the Division of Engineering and Applied Science and the support of family, friends and colleagues through donations to the David G. Goodwin Memorial Fund.

Protonics for Sustainable Energy Technologies

Sossina M. Haile, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University

Sossina Haile

Over the past decade, the costs of solar and wind electricity have plummeted, declining by about 90%. The challenge in achieving sustainable energy goals thus no longer lies in creating electricity technologies with negligible carbon footprint, but instead in creating methods for storing the electricity for use when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing. Electrolysis of water, or using electricity to split the H2O molecule into hydrogen and oxygen, has garnered renewed interest due to the suitability of hydrogen for long term energy storage. Subsequent use of that hydrogen in fuel cells generates electricity without carbon emissions. Two challenges have prevented the realization of hydrogen as an energy storage medium. First, the electrochemical cells suitable for electrolysis have historically been unsuited to electric power generation (fuel cell operation), limiting system flexibility for combining local hydrogen storage with its utilization. Second, a hydrogen delivery infrastructure, as required for transporting locally produced hydrogen to point of use, remains to be developed. Here we describe recent advances in electrochemical cells based on solid state proton conducting electrolytes that tackle both of these challenges. Our protonic ceramic electrolyte systems enable reversible operation to both generate hydrogen from electricity and generate electricity from hydrogen, effectively functioning like rechargeable batteries. Our superprotonic solid acid electrolyte systems enable electrochemical conversion of ammonia into nitrogen and ultra-high purity hydrogen. Ammonia has emerged as an attractive carrier of hydrogen that is entirely carbon-free and can be easily liquified. Its local conversion to high purity hydrogen provides a fuel source for automotive polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells which operate at high power densities but have little tolerance to impurities.

Sossina M. Haile is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University, a position she assumed in 2015 after serving 18 years on the faculty at the California Institute of Technology. She earned her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992. Haile's research broadly encompasses materials, especially oxides, for sustainable electrochemical energy technologies. Her work in fuel cell science and technology has pushed the field to new insights and record performance metrics. In parallel, she has created new avenues for harnessing sunlight to meet rising energy demands and demonstrated viable solutions to the challenge of hydrogen delivery. Amongst her many awards, in 2008 Haile received an American Competitiveness and Innovation (ACI) Fellowship from the U.S. National Science Foundation in recognition of "her timely and transformative research in the energy field and her dedication to inclusive mentoring, education and outreach across many levels." In 2010 she was the recipient of the Chemical Pioneer Award (American Institute of Chemists), in 2012 the International Ceramics Prize (World Academy of Ceramics), and in 2020 the Turnbull Lectureship (Materials Research Society). She is a fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramics Society, the Electrochemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the African Academy of Sciences, and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and serves on the editorial boards of Joule and MRS Energy and Sustainability. Haile also currently serves on the DOE Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Board and on the board of the non-profit Ethiopia Education Initiatives.