Professor Eric Schelter
Professor Eric Schelter
Department of Chemistry
University of Pennsylvania
Host: Valérie Pierre
Fundamental Principles in Coordination Chemistry Applied to Metal Ion Separations for Outcomes in Sustainability
Metals such as gold, palladium, tellurium, lithium, and the rare earths are now pervasive in technology and used regularly in our daily lives. But where do they come from, and how do we get them into pure forms for use in technology? In many cases, mining and purification practices for ‘critical’ metals and extremely harmful for people and the environment. It is therefore attractive to try and reclaim such metals from spent technologies. However, in many cases, chemistry and engineering to recycle specific critical metals is lacking, compared to the cost of obtaining them from primary sources. In this talk, efforts to develop new separations chemistry for recycling critical metals will be presented. Among these, efficient, inter-f-element separations, such as within the rare earths, remain a perennial challenge. We have been interested in triggering element-specific changes, for example through highly specific structural differences, to achieve efficient separations through new thermodynamic modes. And in an orthogonal approach, to express differences in metal complexes through variable rates of some chemical change – a separations chemistry through kinetics. Both methods allow direct connection of coordination chemistry to macroscopic properties for separations. These connections have enabled new modes in solid-liquid extraction to complement solvent extraction for specialized applications. For this talk, our latest results on chelating and redox active ligand frameworks and their applications in thermodynamic and kinetic separations of elements will be presented.
Research projects in Professor Schelter’s group involve inert atmosphere/Schlenk line synthesis of inorganic and organometallic complexes. Rigorous characterization of new compounds is achieved through X-ray crystallography, NMR, FTIR, and UV-Visible absorption spectroscopies, electrochemistry and magnetic susceptibility studies. Current projects are focused on the chemistries and electronic structure effects of the lanthanides, uranium and main group elements.
Professor Schelter joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan Technology University, and his doctorate from Texas A&M University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.