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Christopher Arges, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Penn State
Chris Arges is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Penn State. His research interests are at the intersection of polymer science and electrochemical engineering. An Illinois native, Chris earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He was postdoctoral scholar at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. Chris is the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, the Electrochemical Society-Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, and the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award.
The 2020s will be the decade of hydrogen. It is not only an important fuel for heavy duty vehicle transportation but is also vital to decarbonizing chemical and materials manufacturing – e.g., steel and fertilizer production. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolysis is one of the most efficient routes for generating green hydrogen. PEM fuel cells convert green hydrogen into electrical energy upon demand and at efficiency values over 60%. A key challenge in proliferation of PEM fuel cells and water electrolyzers is their large loadings of platinum group metals (PGMs) that make them cost prohibitive. 3M's nano-structured thin film (NSTF) electrodes consist of extended surface electro-catalysts that display some of the highest mass activity values for the oxygen reduction and evolution reactions (ORR/OER) resulting in exception water electrolyzer and fuel cell performance at low-PGM loadings. However, the mesoscale geometry of the organic crystalline whisker supports used in NSTF have not been systematically tuned to examine how extended surface area structures effect electrochemical reactivity. This talk commences with our recent work to investigate a new class of extended surface area electro-catalysts generated from self-assembled block copolymer templates. We systematically tuned the mesoscale morphology through control of the self-assembly process and the morphology was shown to affect ORR kinetics. The second part of my talk presents our recent work investigating electrode ionomer binders for high-temperature PEM electrochemical hydrogen pumps –a technology that purifies and compresses hydrogen from gas mixtures. I will present our experimental framework to de-convolute various kinetic and transport related resistances that arise from binder chemistry selection for HT-PEM electrodes. The talk will conclude with an outlook of electrochemical hydrogen pump technology for storing and distributing hydrogen in the natural gas pipeline to alleviate hydrogen transportation costs.