2019 Graduate Fellows

Mary Cecilia Johnson

Carbon dioxide hydrogenation products such as formate and methanol can be used as part of a solar energy storage system. Hydrogen fuel can be generated through solar water splitting but is difficult to transport. However, hydrogenating CO2 to C1 products provides an easily transportable liquid-phase hydrogen storage medium that can be reversibly dehydrogenated to release H2 on-site. Preliminary results show that a molecular catalyst developed in the Cossairt lab with a bis-(N-heterocyclic carbene)phosphine ligand with two protic N-heterocyclic carbene (PNHC) wing-tips coordinated to a ruthenium(II) metal center can hydrogenate CO2 to produce formate and methanol under high pressure and temperature conditions, as well as dehydrogenate formate to form an activated CO2 carbamate which produces H2 gas. During this award period, I expect to optimize the reactivity of the catalyst by modifying the ligands and reaction conditions, as well as study the mechanism of CO2 reduction in this system.

Advisor: Brandi Cossairt – 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