CEMS researchers lead $10.6M federal grant to develop a more sustainable process for programmable catalysis

A team led by University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science researchers has received $10.6 million over four years from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a new Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC)—the Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis (CPEC). 

The EFRC will bring together engineers and scientists from seven universities across the country to develop a reaction technology that will transform how catalysts convert energy-rich molecules in chemical reactions, ultimately leading to enhancements in rate, selectivity, and conversion of those reactions. 

The research aims to increase energy efficiency and promote future economic development while reducing environmental impacts associated with energy conversion.

"Financial support by the U.S. Department of Energy for the Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis will enable the creation of an entirely new catalyst technology that achieves higher reaction rates and better reaction control for the most important chemistries required to address climate change,” said Paul Dauenhauer, the center’s director and professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

The award is part of a $540 million initiative by the DOE to invest in clean energy technologies and low-carbon manufacturing to help the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This center is one of two new EFRCs that the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is leading as part of the initiative.

Renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar photovoltaics provide a pathway to a carbon-free energy future, provided the renewable power can be stored for times when we need it. Finding a way to more efficiently convert low-cost renewable power to carbon-free liquid fuels could enable 100 percent implementation of these renewable power technologies.

The Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis, University of Minnesota scientists and engineers will work with colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clemson University, the University of Houston, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Other faculty from the University of Minnesota include Daniel Frisbie, Matthew Neurock, Aditya Bhan, and Bharat Jalan from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Renee Frontiera from the Department of Chemistry.

Learn more about the new research center on the CPEC website.

Read more about the University of Minnesota’s two new EFRCs.