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Keynote Speaker

2023 Keynote Speaker

Paul J.A. Kenis, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Professor Paul J.A. Kenis holds the Elio E. Tarika endowed Chair, is a Professor in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

After serving as the Head of ChBE for 11 years, he now serves as the Director of the School of Chemical Sciences. He received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Nijmegen Radboud University and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Twente, both in the Netherlands. Before starting his independent career at Illinois in 2000, he was a postdoc at Harvard University with George Whitesides.

Kenis is an author of over 220 publications and 14 patents. He has been recognized with a number of awards, including a 3M young faculty award, a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), a Xerox award, the Energy Technology Division Research Award from the Electrochemical Society (ECS), the Industry Project Award from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), and he has been elected a Fellow of the ECS. He is a coauthor of reports on the prospects of CO2 utilization at scale issued by the US National Academies, the Royal Society, and the global Mission Innovation consortium.

His current research program pursues reactor technology for (i) autonomous synthesis and optimization of nanomaterials such as quantum dots, and (ii) electrolysis processes for sustainable manufacturing of chemicals and food from renewable resources such as CO2 , air, and biomass.

“Towards Electrifying Chemical Manufacturing”

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Since 2010, the electrochemical reduction of CO2 has evolved from a barely studied topic to one of the most active research areas in the field of electrochemistry. The need to reduce global CO2 emissions has driven the vigorous exploration of electrocatalysts, electrodes, and electrolyzer configurations that are able to reduce CO2 (or other renewable feeds) to different value added intermediates or products in ever more selective and energy efficient ways. With many catalysts now available, attention has started to shift to topics such as electrode durability, process intensification, and scaling. One step further, once can use a co-conversion approach where electroreduction of CO2 on the cathode is performed in parallel with conversion of an industrial waste stream or a renewable feed (e.g., from biomass) into a valued-added chemical on the anode. These efforts increasingly are tied to ever more-detailed techno-comic and life cycle analyses.

This presentation will provide an overview where some of these ‘beyond CO2RR catalyst discovery’ efforts are. What about durability of electrodes in different cell configurations? What should larger electrolyzer stack designs looks like, and how should they be operated to maximize performance (rate and/or selectivity)? How to optimize performance in light of dilute CO2 feeds from industrial point sources or from direct air capture, with these feeds containing different contaminants and/or oxygen. This presentation will explore some of these aforementioned challenges based on our work on CO2 valorization, biomass conversion, ammonia oxidation, as well as the production of food from air.