Putting Interfacial Chemistry to Work for Civil and Environmental Engineering
Speaker: Jeff Fitts, Brookhaven National Lab
Series: CEE Departmental Seminars
Location: Bowen Hall Auditorium
Date/Time: Tuesday, April 19, 2011, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
The foundations of interfacial chemistry were largely developed by engineers to understand colloidal suspensions, and our understanding of the atomic and electronic structures of surfaces primarily emerged from studies of semiconductor materials by electrical and materials engineers. I am motivated by the challenge of how interfacial chemistry can be used to improve our understanding and predictive models of the complex engineered systems that must be developed on a massive scale to move society toward a more sustainable development trajectory. I will review two research projects to highlight how recent advances in synchrotron-based x-ray methods are enabling studies of interfacial processes in complex heterogeneous systems under in situ ‘real world’ conditions. First, I will present an x-ray imaging study of acid-driven erosion processes that might impact predictions of long-term leakage potential from geologic carbon dioxide storage reservoirs. I will then review an ongoing collaboration with Ghent University in Belgium to develop ‘green’ synthesis methods for noble metal catalysts to treat recalcitrant wastewater pollutants. In both cases, the interfacial studies are used to identify the physical and chemical processes that drive system behavior and develop the simplifying assumptions needed to model such complex systems.