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Fuels made using renewable resources are reducing global demand on fossil fuels, but when it comes to improving renewable fuel technology sometimes it pays to think small. Three researchers from Imperial College will share with you (over a pint!) what they do in the lab to make our future fuels cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient.
Chirality: Through the Looking Glass
Dr Jochen Brandt (Research Associate at ICL)
The left and right hand are mirror images but they cannot be superimposed: objects with this symmetry are called chiral. Although a person may be left- or right-handed, there is no fundamental difference that makes the left hand better or worse than the right hand. That is, until you try to interact with another chiral object, like trying to put a right glove on your left hand. This talk will explain how the two “hands” of chiral molecules can have identical physical properties (e.g. boiling point, light absorption) yet can have a different smell or lead to more efficient TV or phone screens.
A quest for the perfect defects
Electrochemical devices such as fuel cells or electrolysers will be key to achieve the sustainability of our future energy and chemical sectors. The performance of these devices is ultimately defined by the atomic-scale nature and structure of the electrocatalyst, a functional material that accelerate targeted reactions. Can we design (and prepare) the perfect surface for electrochemical reactions? In this talk I will discuss how the atomic structure and the type of surface defects of metallic catalysts affect the electrochemical conversion of CO2 to fuels and value-added chemicals.
What can sunshine do for hydrogen?
Dr Anna Hankin (Research Associate at ICL)
Sunshine and water are all the resources needed to make hydrogen. ‘Solar hydrogen’ is not derived from fossil fuels and hydrogen burns without releasing carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Can we help to save our climate by using green, solar hydrogen? Hydrogen is already safe to use in hydrogen fuel cell cars and the first hydrogen powered train is now operating successfully. But how much solar hydrogen can we make and what would the devices that make it look like? This talk will provide a glimpse into the engineering involved in building our solar hydrogen world.