Bryan Goldsmith receives NSF CAREER Award

Bryan Goldsmith receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award to enhance the conversion of nitrate into valuable ammonia for waste management across industry, food and water systems.

Dow Corning Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bryan Goldsmith received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award to enhance the conversion of nitrate into valuable ammonia for nitrate waste management across industry, food and water systems.

“I am grateful to receive the NSF CAREER Award because it provides our lab five years of financial support to better understand how to catalytically convert nitrate to more useful chemical products,” Goldsmith said. “This award also allows our lab to create an educational outreach program to teach the public about the important role of catalysis in improving the environment.”

Goldsmith’s research aims to remediate nitrate pollution by converting nitrate (NO3) molecules into ammonia (NH3) via the electrocatalytic nitrate reduction reaction (NO3RR), Fig. 1. This will ultimately improve the conversion of nitrate into valuable ammonia to manage nitrate waste across various industries and systems.

“NO3is among the most common groundwater pollutants in the world and a serious threat to human and ecosystem health,” Goldsmith said. “This research focuses on computationally addressing multiple scientific questions to better understand NO3RR to ammonia on electrocatalysts.”

Fig. 1. Electrocatalysis using alloys is a promising approach to sustainable remediate nitrate and convert it to value-added or benign products like ammonia.

Findings are anticipated to improve fundamental understanding and design rules of electrocatalysts for NO3RR with greater activity, selectivity and stability, which will aid efforts to create practical electrocatalytic devices to remove nitrate from the environment.

The project will also execute public educational outreach in collaboration with the U-M Museum of Natural History and Washtenaw Community College to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and catalysis training for students.

Goldsmith joined the Department of Chemical Engineering as an assistant professor in 2017 and was named Dow Corning Assistant Professor in 2020. He received a BS in Chemical Engineering at the University of California Riverside in 2010 and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2015.

He is the recipient of several awards including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers 35 under 35 Award in 2020, and the American Chemical Society’s OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 2022.

The Goldsmith lab works to combine data science, molecular simulation and atomistic modeling to gain comprehension of these materials to aid execution of their mission to help design a sustainable future.

Their current research includes the development of machine learning for heterogeneous catalysis, electrocatalytic conversion of wastewater pollutants, studying nanoclusters to use as catalysts, and redox chemistry for energy storage.