2018 Graduate Fellows

Griffin Ruehl

My research focuses on two major challenges: the storage of solar and other forms of intermittent renewable energy, and carbon-neutral fuel and chemical production. In collaboration with the Chemical Transformations Initiative at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory I am researching electrocatalytic conversion of unused biomass to energy-dense fuels or valuable chemicals. Electrocatalysis offers a means to produce these without using fossil fuels, as well as store renewable electricity in chemical bonds. The challenge is how to convert the variety of organic molecules in bio-oil into useful products at high rates. I’ve set up a system in my first year to determine intrinsic kinetics of the electrocatalytic hydrogenation of organics. Using this, I will study how different molecular designs affect kinetics, and develop relations between molecular structure and catalytic activity. Experimental data on these relations can also better inform computational models to predict effective catalysts for a variety of applications beyond biofuels.

Advisor: Charlie Campbell – Chemistry

“Providing clean energy to the inhabitants of our planet is a major challenge to future generations. The University of Washington is to be congratulated for establishing an Institute where faculty and students can work together to tackle the difficult global challenge of energy sustainability.”
– Mildred Dresselhaus, Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering, Emerita and Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Energy competition is opening up in a variety of ways, the push for carbon control will continue, and the rate of technology advancement is exponential. All the things I’ve seen at the CEI are just perfect for the way we see things going in energy. You guys are at the cutting edge. We’re counting on you.”
– Ronald Litzinger, President, Edison Energy