warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/drupal/drupal/sites/udel.edu.environmentalportal/themes/enviro-theme/ud-footer.php on line 7.

Chemical engineering student receives Air Products Fellowship

Nov. 1, 2010--Thomas Kelly, a third-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware, has been awarded the Air Products Graduate Fellowship for the 2010-2011 academic year. Kelly is advised by Jingguang G. Chen, Claire D. LeClaire Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Kelly is studying alternative energy sources that will advance the movement from fuels based on oil and gas toward biorenewable energy sources. In specific, his research focuses on alternative electrocatalysts for direct alcohol fuel cells.

Alcohols are an attractive fuel source, says Kelly, because they are liquid at room temperature and miscible with water. Chen explains, however, that one of the technical hurdles of proton exchange membrane fuel cells is that the current electrocatalysts are made of platinum-group metals that are very expensive and are easily poisoned by carbon monoxide.

“Tom's research involves discovering alternative materials that are less expensive and more poison-tolerant than platinum-group metals,” says Chen.

Kelly's research builds on previous work done by Chen's group with methanol, and extends to higher alcohols such as ethanol and butanol. These higher alcohols are more attractive than methanol because they are less toxic and more easily produced from biomass.

“My interactions with Tom so far have convinced me that he is a very special student,” says Chen. “He has performed quantum calculations, verified the theoretical predictions on model surfaces and extended surface studies to electrochemical evaluation. It is rare for one student to possess such a wide range of skills.”

The fellowship is supported through an annual gift to the University by the Air Products Foundation.

Air Products is helping to educate the next generation of engineers who will help solve the world's demand for clean, affordable energy by providing this unique graduate fellowship that is coupled with an industrial research internship,” says Norman Wagner, the Alvin B. and Julia O. Stiles Professor of Chemical Engineering and chairperson of the department. “We appreciate the dedicated and loyal alumni there who helped create this new graduate fellowship and continue to support it.”

“I am very excited to gain applied industry experience that will complement my academic research through my internship at Air Products,” adds Kelly.

Kelly received his bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama in 2007. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society. Following graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in industry, preferably in a research position focusing on catalysis and its applications to renewable energy technologies.

Article by Karen B. Roberts