A Story of a Scientist: A Researcher, Mentor, Teacher, Leader, and Advocate
Jilani, Safia Z.
Tong, YuYe J
In efforts to find renewable and sustainable alternatives to gasoline in transportation vehicles, scientists have been studying the design and use of fuel cells. In a fuel cell, a fuel undergoes a reaction that generates electricity, and that electricity can power a vehicle. One possible solution is the ethanol fuel cell where ethanol can be converted into electricity by using nanoparticle (NP) electrocatalysts. A few issues in ethanol fuel cells include: having a catalyst with less Pt in it as Pt is costly and nonrenewable, having a catalyst with a low onset potential to improve efficiency, and having a catalyst that is selective to the full oxidation of ethanol, which also improves efficiency.In my research, I have synthesized, purified, and characterized PtNiCu NPs for the use of studying the ethanol electrooxidation reaction (EOR) in ethanol fuel cells. To better understand the mechanism of the reaction, I have studied the products generated from the reaction to determine if full vs. partial oxidation is preferred by using an in-situ electrochemical nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technique that I helped develop. I also investigated part of the mechanism of the reaction using in-situ electrochemical infrared (IR) to better understand how Ni improves the EOR reaction. I also investigated part of the mechanism of EOR for a collaborator’s catalyst using in-situ electrochemical IR. The last part of my dissertation also highlights some of my contributions to advancing the scientific community beyond lab research through science communication, leadership, and advocacy.
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