Professor Yushan Yan’s group recently reported an important advance in the development of polymer hydroxide (OH–) exchange membranes (HEMs) for fuel cell applications. In contrast to proton exchange membranes (PEMs), HEMs have lower materials costs and durability problems and can be utilized in combination with electrocatalysts that are more abundant and inexpensive than precious metal catalysts used for PEM fuel cells. In HEM design there has been well-known trade-off between swelling control and ion conductivity. Yan’s group has largely overcome this problem by enhancing van der Waals interactions among polymer chains. Using large quaternary phosphonium-functionalized polymers and a high electron density polymer chain (see Scheme I), the Yan group was able to prepare a new membrane with low swelling, high hydroxide conductivity and excellent HEM fuel cell performance. This discovery was reported in the May issue ChemSusChem (2012, 5, 843-848) and was highlighted as the cover.
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John Kitchin, UD/CCST Alumni
John R. Kitchin, of Carnegie Mellon University, has been named by President Obama as one of 96 researcher recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Kitchen received his PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 2004. He was co-advised by Mark Barteau and Jingguang Chen.
“Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people.” President Obama said. “The impressive accomplishments of today’s awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead.”
The Presidential early career awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy. The recipients are employed or funded by the following departments and agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veteran Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation, which join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.
The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.
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