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An Examination of the Impact of Support Design on 316 Stainless Steel Supports

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The removal of support material from metal 3D printed objects is a laborious necessity for the post-processing of powder bed fusion printing (PBF). Supports are typically mechanically removed by machining techniques. Sacrificial supports are necessary in PBF printing to relieve

The removal of support material from metal 3D printed objects is a laborious necessity for the post-processing of powder bed fusion printing (PBF). Supports are typically mechanically removed by machining techniques. Sacrificial supports are necessary in PBF printing to relieve thermal stresses and support overhanging parts often resulting in the inclusion of supports in regions of the part that are not easily accessed by mechanical removal methods. Recent innovations in PBF support removal include dissolvable metal supports through an electrochemical etching process. Dissolvable PBF supports have the potential to significantly reduce the costs and time associated with traditional support removal. However, the speed and effectiveness of this approach is inhibited by numerous factors such as support geometry and metal powder entrapment within supports. To fully realize this innovative approach, it is necessary to model and understand the design parameters necessary to optimize support structures applicable to an electrochemical etching process. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of block additive manufacturing support parameters on key process outcomes of the dissolution of 316 stainless steel support structures. The parameters investigated included hatch spacing and perforation, and the outcomes of interests included time required for completion, surface roughness, and effectiveness of the etching process. Electrical current was also evaluated as an indicator of process completion. Analysis of the electrical current throughout the etching process showed that the dissolution is diffusion limited to varying degrees, and is dependent on support structure parameters. Activation and passivation behavior was observed during current leveling, and appeared to be more pronounced in non-perforated samples with less dense hatch spacing. The correlation between electrical current and completion of the etching process was unclear, as the support structures became mechanically removable well before the current leveled. The etching process was shown to improve surface finish on unsupported surfaces, but support was shown to negatively impact surface finish. Tighter hatch spacing was shown to correlate to larger variation in surface finish, due to ridges left behind by the support structures. In future studies, it is recommended current be more closely correlated to process completion and more roughness data be collected to identify a trend between hatch spacing and surface roughness.

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2018-05

Heterogeneous Catalysis for Organic Reactions

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This honors thesis is focused on two separate catalysis projects conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez at ETH Zürich. The first project explored ethylene oxychlorination over supported europium oxychloride catalysts. The second project investigated alkyne semihydrogenation over nickel

This honors thesis is focused on two separate catalysis projects conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez at ETH Zürich. The first project explored ethylene oxychlorination over supported europium oxychloride catalysts. The second project investigated alkyne semihydrogenation over nickel phosphide catalysts. This work is the subject of a publication of which I am a co-author, as cited below.

Project 1 Abstract: Ethylene Oxychlorination
The current two-step process for the industrial process of vinyl chloride production involves CuCl2 catalyzed ethylene oxychlorination to ethylene dichloride followed by thermal cracking of the latter to vinyl chloride. To date, no industrial application of a one-step process is available. To close this gap, this work evaluates a wide range of self-prepared supported CeO2 and EuOCl catalysts for one-step production of vinyl chloride from ethylene in a fixed-bed reactor at 623 773 K and 1 bar using feed ratios of C2H4:HCl:O2:Ar:He = 3:3 6:1.5 6:3:82 89.5. Among all studied systems, CeO2/ZrO2 and CeO2/Zeolite MS show the highest activity but suffer from severe combustion of ethylene, forming COx, while 20 wt.% EuOCl/γ-Al2O3 leads to the best vinyl chloride selectivity of 87% at 15.6% C2H4 conversion with complete suppression of CO2 formation and only 4% selectivity to CO conversion for over 100 h on stream. Characterization by XRD and EDX mapping reveals that much of the Eu is present in non-active phases such as Al2Eu or EuAl4, indicating that alternative synthesis methods could be employed to better utilize the metal. A linear relationship between conversion and metal loading is found for this catalyst, indicating that always part of the used Eu is available as EuOCl, while the rest forms inactive europium aluminate species. Zeolite-supported EuOCl slightly outperforms EuOCl/γ Al2O3 in terms of total yield, but is prone to significant coking and is unstable. Even though a lot of Eu seems locked in inactive species on EuOCl/γ Al2O3, these results indicate possible savings of nearly 16,000 USD per kg of catalyst compared to a bulk EuOCl catalyst. These very promising findings constitute a crucial step for process intensification of polyvinyl chloride production and exploring the potential of supported EuOCl catalysts in industrially-relevant reactions.

Project 2 Abstract: Alkyne Semihydrogenation
Despite strongly suffering from poor noble metal utilization and a highly toxic selectivity modifier (Pb), the archetypal catalyst applied for the three-phase alkyne semihydrogenation, the Pb-doped Pd/CaCO3 (Lindlar catalyst), is still being utilized at industrial level. Inspired by the very recent strategies involving the modification of Pd with p-block elements (i.e., S), this work extrapolates the concept by preparing crystalline metal phosphides with controlled stoichiometry. To develop an affordable and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional hydrogenation catalysts, nickel, a metal belonging to the same group as Pd and capable of splitting molecular hydrogen has been selected. Herein, a simple two-step synthesis procedure involving nontoxic precursors was used to synthesize bulk nickel phosphides with different stoichiometries (Ni2P, Ni5P4, and Ni12P5) by controlling the P:Ni ratios. To uncover structural and surface features, this catalyst family is characterized with an array of methods including X-ray diffraction (XRD), 31P magic-angle nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS-NMR) spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Bulk-sensitive techniques prove the successful preparation of pure phases while XPS analysis unravels the facile passivation occurring at the NixPy surface that persists even after reductive treatment. To assess the characteristic surface fingerprints of these materials, Ar sputtering was carried out at different penetration depths, reveling the presence of Ni+ and P-species. Continuous-flow three-phase hydrogenations of short-chain acetylenic compounds display that the oxidized layer covering the surface is reduced under reaction conditions, as evidenced by the induction period before reaching the steady state performance. To assess the impact of the phosphidation treatment on catalytic performance, the catalysts were benchmarked against a commercial Ni/SiO2-Al2O3 sample. While Ni/SiO2-Al2O3 presents very low selectivity to the alkene (the selectivity is about 10% at full conversion) attributed to the well-known tendency of naked nickel nanoparticles to form hydrides, the performance of nickel phosphides is highly selective and independent of P:Ni ratio. In line with previous findings on PdxS, kinetic tests indicate the occurrence of a dual-site mechanism where the alkyne and hydrogen do not compete for the same site.

This work is the subject of a publication of which I am a co-author, as cited below.

D. Albani; K. Karajovic; B. Tata; Q. Li; S. Mitchell; N. López; J. Pérez-Ramírez. Ensemble Design in Nickel Phosphide Catalysts for Alkyne Semi-Hydrogenation. ChemCatChem 2019. doi.org/10.1002/cctc.201801430

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2019-05

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Characterizing Buffers to Maximize Peroxide Production in the Cathode Chamber of Microbial Fuel Cells

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Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) facilitate the conversion of organic matter to electrical current to make the total energy in black water treatment neutral or positive and produce hydrogen peroxide to assist the reuse of gray water. This research focuses on

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) facilitate the conversion of organic matter to electrical current to make the total energy in black water treatment neutral or positive and produce hydrogen peroxide to assist the reuse of gray water. This research focuses on wastewater treatment at the U.S. military forward operating bases (FOBs). FOBs experience significant challenges with their wastewater treatment due to their isolation and dangers in transporting waste water and fresh water to and from the bases. Even though it is theoretically favorable to produce power in a MFC while treating black water, producing H2O2 is more useful and practical because it is a powerful cleaning agent that can reduce odor, disinfect, and aid in the treatment of gray water. Various acid forms of buffers were tested in the anode and cathode chamber to determine if the pH would lower in the cathode chamber while maintaining H2O2 efficiency, as well as to determine ion diffusion from the anode to the cathode via the membrane. For the catholyte experiments, phosphate and bicarbonate were tested as buffers while sodium chloride was the control. These experiments determined that the two buffers did not lower the pH. It was seen that the phosphate buffer reduced the H2O2 efficiency significantly while still staying at a high pH, while the bicarbonate buffer had the same efficiency as the NaCl control. For the anolyte experiments, it was shown that there was no diffusion of the buffers or MFC media across the membrane that would cause a decrease in the H2O2 production efficiency.

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2016-05

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Direct Flame Solid Oxide Fuel Cells for Use in Remote Powering Applications

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In this Honors thesis, direct flame solid oxide fuel cells (DFFC) were considered for their feasibility in providing a means of power generation for remote powering needs. Also considered for combined heat and fuel cell power cogeneration are thermoelectric cells

In this Honors thesis, direct flame solid oxide fuel cells (DFFC) were considered for their feasibility in providing a means of power generation for remote powering needs. Also considered for combined heat and fuel cell power cogeneration are thermoelectric cells (TEC). Among the major factors tested in this project for all cells were life time, thermal cycle/time based performance, and failure modes for cells. Two types of DFFC, anode and electrolyte supported, were used with two different fuel feed streams of propane/isobutene and ethanol. Several test configurations consisting of single cells, as well as stacked systems were tested to show how cell performed and degraded over time. All tests were run using a Biologic VMP3 potentiostat connected to a cell placed within the flame of a modified burner MSR® Wisperlite Universal stove. The maximum current and power output seen by any electrolyte supported DFFCs tested was 47.7 mA/cm2 and 9.6 mW/cm2 respectively, while that generated by anode supported DFFCs was 53.7 mA/cm2 and 9.25 mW/cm2 respectively with both cells operating under propane/isobutene fuel feed streams. All TECs tested dramatically outperformed both constructions of DFFC with a maximum current and power output of 309 mA/cm2 and 80 mW/cm2 respectively. It was also found that electrolyte supported DFFCs appeared to be less susceptible to degradation of the cell microstructure over time but more prone to cracking, while anode supported DFFCs were dramatically less susceptible to cracking but exhibited substantial microstructure degradation and shorter usable lifecycles. TECs tested were found to only be susceptible to overheating, and thus were suggested for use with electrolyte supported DFFCs in remote powering applications.

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2014-05

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A Sustainable Approach to Wastewater Treatment Using Microbial Fuel Cells with Peroxide Production

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Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) promote the sustainable conversion of organic matter in black water to electrical current, enabling the production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) while making waste water treatment energy neutral or positive. H2O2 is useful in remote locations such

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) promote the sustainable conversion of organic matter in black water to electrical current, enabling the production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) while making waste water treatment energy neutral or positive. H2O2 is useful in remote locations such as U.S. military forward operating bases (FOBs) for on-site tertiary water treatment or as a medical disinfectant, among many other uses. Various carbon-based catalysts and binders for use at the cathode of a an MFC for H2O2 production are explored using linear sweep voltammetry (LSV) and rotating ring-disk electrode (RRDE) techniques. The oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) at the cathode has slow kinetics at conditions present in the MFC, making it important to find a catalyst type and loading which promote a 2e- (rather than 4e-) reaction to maximize H2O2 formation. Using LSV methods, I compared the cathodic overpotentials associated with graphite and Vulcan carbon catalysts as well as Nafion and AS-4 binders. Vulcan carbon catalyst with Nafion binder produced the lowest overpotentials of any binder/catalyst combinations. Additionally, I determined that pH control may be required at the cathode due to large potential losses caused by hydroxide (OH-) concentration gradients. Furthermore, RRDE tests indicate that Vulcan carbon catalyst with a Nafion binder has a higher H2O2 production efficiency at lower catalyst loadings, but the trade-off is a greater potential loss due to higher activation energy. Therefore, an intermediate catalyst loading of 0.5 mg/cm2 Vulcan carbon with Nafion binder is recommended for the final MFC design. The chosen catalyst, binder, and loading will maximize H2O2 production, optimize MFC performance, and minimize the need for additional energy input into the system.

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2015-05

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Development of low-temperature ionic liquid-organic solvents-salt electrolyte systems for MET seismometer

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Ionic liquids boast a wide variety of application as modern electrolytes. Their unique collection of attributes, most notably insignificant vapor pressures, considerable ionic conductivity, and excellent thermal stability, prove ionic liquids excellent candidates for low-temperature electrolyte applications. This project focuses

Ionic liquids boast a wide variety of application as modern electrolytes. Their unique collection of attributes, most notably insignificant vapor pressures, considerable ionic conductivity, and excellent thermal stability, prove ionic liquids excellent candidates for low-temperature electrolyte applications. This project focuses on the development of a low-temperature iodide-based ionic liquid electrolyte for a molecular electronic transducer (MET) seismometer. Based on ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium iodide ([BMIM][I]), a functional electrolyte system is developed and optimized with addition of organic solvents, gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and propylene carbonate (PC), and lithium iodide, showing the promise of operating at excessively low temperatures. The molecular interactions between [BMIM][I] and the organic solvents were classified using FTIR and 1H NMR spectroscopy. Specifically, the presence of hydrogen bonding between the carbonyl group on the organic solvents and the [BMIM]+ cation were captured. The effect of these interactions on several electrolyte properties were observed, including an extended glass transition temperature (Tg) of -120.2 °C and enhanced transport properties. When compared to the previous formulations, the optimized electrolyte exhibits a broader working temperature range, a higher fluidity over the temperature range from 25°C to -75 °C, and an enhanced ionic conductivity at temperatures below -70 °C as suggested by the Vogel–Fulcher–Tammann (VFT) model. Cyclic voltammetry (CV) confirmed the electrochemical stability of the electrolyte as well as the activity of the I3- / I- redox reaction for the MET sensing technology at room temperature. The presented works not only present a facile strategy of designing low-temperature electrolyte systems via design of molecular interactions, but also support future operations of MET seismometer.

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2020-05

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Silver Recovery from Silver Fluoride Solution for Solar Module Recycling

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As Energy needs grow and photovoltaics expand to meet humanity’s demand for electricity, waste modules will start building up. Tao et. al. propose a recycling process to recover all precious solar cell materials, a process estimated to generate a potential

As Energy needs grow and photovoltaics expand to meet humanity’s demand for electricity, waste modules will start building up. Tao et. al. propose a recycling process to recover all precious solar cell materials, a process estimated to generate a potential $15 billion in revenue by 2050. A key part of this process is metal recovery, and specifically, silver recovery. Silver recovery via electrowinning was studied using a hydrofluoric acid leachate/electrolyte. Bulk electrolysis trials were performed at varied voltages using a silver working electrode, silver pseudo-reference electrode and a graphite counter-electrode. The highest mass recovery achieved was 98.8% which occurred at 0.65 volts. Product purity was below 90% for all trials and coulombic efficiency never reached above 20%. The average energy consumption per gram of reduced silver was 2.16kWh/kg. Bulk electrolysis indicates that parasitic reactions are drawing power from the potentiostat and limiting the mass recovery of the system. In order to develop this process to the practical use stage, parasitic reactions must be eliminated, and product purity and power efficiency must improve. The system should be run in a vacuum environment and the reduction peaks in the cell should be characterized using cyclic voltammetry.

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2020-12