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Grad students get energy grants

When an electron inside this synchrotron is accelerated to almost the speed of light and forced to switch directions using magnetic fields, the electron emits an X-ray. This blazing light is beamed to laboratory workstations for illuminating the chemistry and structure of a material, atom by atom, in 3D.

“I’m very excited to win the DOE grant,” said Byron, whose doctoral adviser is Prof. Andrew Teplyakov in UD’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “It will enable me to further characterize the catalysts I’m studying. I’m very grateful for this opportunity, given that there are less than 20 synchrotron facilities in the U.S.”

Byron’s research focuses on hydrocarbon-reforming chemical reactions, which have numerous applications in the renewable energy field. She is examining highly active metal catalysts to find the best chemical spurs that will speed up the dry reforming of methane, which converts carbon dioxide and methane into synthesis gas. This syngas can then be further processed into renewable fuels.

“This research is important in addressing the growing energy and environmental crisis, especially if we can capture greenhouse gases and transform them into a source of fuel on a wide scale,” Byron said. “Ideally, I hope it will lead to a reduction in the effects of global warming and a reliable source of energy.”

National Energy and Technology Laboratory 

Doctoral student Jeffrey Hudson, from Marysville, Michigan, is heading to the National Energy and Technology Laboratory (NETL), located just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is taking a deeper look at the chemical interactions between iron and shale organic matter, with the goal to optimize oil and natural gas production from fracking wells. Hudson’s doctoral adviser is Prof. Yu-Ping Chin in UD’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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