The Texas A&M Energy Institute is proud to announce the naming of the 2017-18 Energy Institute Fellows. These fellowships aim to reward excellence in energy research, promote future research that is important to our energy future, and encourage students to pursue careers in energy.
These graduate fellowships recognize outstanding energy research work performed by Ph.D. students under the supervision of Affiliated Faculty Members of the Texas A&M Energy Institute.
A total of 41 applications were submitted and three total applicants were selected.
Luis E. Camacho
Advisor: Perla Balbuena
As we continue to move toward sustainable sources of energy (e.g. solar, wind), new challenges arise in the engineering of materials for more efficient energy conversion and storage devices. In order to improve the performance of such devices, it is crucial to gain a comprehensive understanding of how they operate, requiring joined efforts from first-principles modeling and in situ experiments. At Professor Balbuena’s research laboratory in the department of chemical engineering, I am carrying out research using computational methods at the nanoscale to study physical-chemical properties needed for design of novel materials used in diverse energy applications. A few specific topics of my research include: 1) the design of anode electrocatalysts for water splitting to improve hydrogen production; 2) evaluation of tunable electronic and optical properties of semiconductor transition metal dichalcogenides – a 2D type of materials with a diverse number of applications such as nano batteries, green electronics, and photonics; and 3) the elucidation and control of the solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) growth at anode materials for Li-ion and Li-sulfur batteries to enhance the performance and lifetime of rechargeable batteries. This theoretical understanding combined with experimental data can help develop effective ways to tailor-make materials for crucial energy applications.
Advisor: Hamid Toliyat
Magnetic gears use the interaction of modulated magnetic fields to transform mechanical energy between low-speed, high-torque rotation and high-speed, low-torque rotation. Thus, they perform the same function as mechanical gears while providing benefits from contactless power transfer, such as reduced maintenance requirements, higher reliability, and reduced acoustic noise. Magnetic gears are ideal for high-torque applications when maintenance and reliability are significant concerns, such as during production of wind energy, wave energy, as well as various downhole applications. In addition to simply replacing mechanical gears, magnetic gears can also be integrated directly with an electric machine (motor or generator) to form a magnetically geared machine – a single, compact device capable of producing significantly more torque than a comparably sized conventional electric machine. This magnetically geared machine can then be used directly, without any further gearing. This research has involved the development of novel magnetic gear and magnetically geared machine topologies; the development of analytical and numerical tools to evaluate magnetic gear performance; the optimization of magnetic gear and magnetically geared machine performance for different applications; and the design, fabrication, and testing of prototype magnetic gears and magnetically geared machines.
Advisor: Hong Liang
Electrochemical energy storage devices (EESDs) are in demand for portable electronic devices, smart grid, hybrid or electric vehicles, and energy recovery systems. To date, lithium ion batteries (LIBs) and supercapacitors (SCs) are two typical mediums of storage. This research aims at design, fabrication, and characterization of electrodes made of novel hierarchical nanocomposites. Firstly, various types of metallic current collectors with highly porous morphology are fabricated and characterized. Nanostructured, shape-specific, and electrochemically active transition metallic oxide (TMO) particles are subsequently synthesized and directly deposited on such porous current collector. This combination of nanostructured TMO particles and porous current collectors establishes the hierarchical micro-architecture of advanced electrodes. Meanwhile, facile and novel binder-free processing is applied during the assembly. Electrochemical characterization and analysis are conducted to understand the mechanisms of electrochemical interactions, ion transport, and energy storage. The ultimate purpose of this research is to design better electrodes with greater energy density, longer lifespan, enhanced cyclic stability, and lower cost.