Research

OVERVIEW

Our lab is focused on creating electrically-powered catalysts which can drive oxidation and reduction steps involved in chemical synthesis, using nitrogen gas, carbon dioxide, and water as sustainable synthons. 

By using ubiquitous starting materials present in air and water, we will enable distributed manufacturing of chemicals which are critical to our way of life. Using renewable electricity to drive these reactions will allow for realizing sustainable synthetic routes.

Research Areas

Coffee Bean

CO2 as C-atom source

Carbon-negative functionalization of molecules using carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide is attractive for synthetic steps in which a  carbon atom needs to be added. We are developing electrochemical routes for carboxylation and for converting carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, a key chemical intermediate in the chemical industry. 

Coffee Bean

N2 as N-atom source

Dissociating dinitrogen molecules for chemical synthesis

We are developing low-temperature, ambient pressure routes for the electrochemical synthesis of ammonia. At present, the Haber-Bosch process, which consumes about 1% of energy worldwide, requires hydrogen produced from steam reforming of methane, creating a large carbon footprint. We envision a sustainable route in which water is used as the hydrogen source. Electrochemically synthesized ammonia may be used in downstream chemical processes and also represents an attractive strategy for the storage of electrical energy in chemical bonds to overcome the intermittency of clean energy sources like solar and wind.

Coffee Bean

H2O as O-atom source

 Transferring oxygen atoms from water to organic molecules

We are developing routes by which oxygen functionality can be introduced in saturated and unstaturated hydrocarbon feedstocks. This avoids the use of oxygen, which leads to flammability hazards with commonly used organic solvents. This reactivity can be in tandem with electrochemical C-H activation steps. 

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Department of Chemical Engineering

Karthish (PI): 617-715-5740   /  karthish@mit.edu / 66-550

Helen (Admin):  617-258-7036  / harroyo@mit.edu   / 66-552