Forbes and Mason awarded funds for Chemical and Materials Science to Advance Clean Energy

grad students carbon capture project
Monday, October 17, 2022 - 3:15pm

Professor Tori Forbes and Dr. Sara E. Mason were awarded funds to support “Direct Air Carbon Dioxide Separation Using a Uranyl Superoxide Catalyst” as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s highly competitive Chemical and Materials Science to Advance Clean Energy Technologies and Low-Carbon Manufacturing funding opportunity. The superoxide radical reacts with CO2 to form carbonate; however, challenges with controlling the reaction kinetics within strong base conditions stand in the way of using this chemistry in CO2 capture. Researchers in the laboratory of Prof. Forbes recently synthesized a new uranyl peroxide/superoxide compound, “KUPS-1,” that can catalyze superoxide formation and stabilize the reactive species in aqueous solution. The material can be regenerated under relatively mild conditions and can be optimized for the strong base carbon capture process.

The research supported by this 3 year, $755,000 award will be carried out collaboratively between Prof. Forbes and co-PI Dr. Mason (Brookhaven National Laboratory) under research aims studying (i) the decomposition of the catalyst and how to control reactivity, (ii) the reaction thermodynamics/kinetics and how to drive rapid, selective carbonation of the KUPS-1 catalyst and (iii) mechanistic details of the regeneration process and how to form the superoxide radical with minimal chemical input.

Synthesis of pure solid-sate samples, spectroscopy, and experimental methods to study the solution chemistry will be used in conjunction with computational chemistry under each aim. University of Iowa graduate students working on the project will receive training in interdisciplinary chemistry that contribute fundamentally to ambitious climate goals. The proposal was driven by preliminary studies done by University of Iowa graduate and undergraduate researchers in the Forbes and Mason groups, setting the stage for ongoing collaboration and discovery.


Photo: Logan Augustine and Dmytro Kravchuk, UIowa Chemistry Graduate Students whose preliminary work helped drive the awarded proposal. Both are currently carrying out research at Los Alamos National Laboratory to enhance their graduate training."