The 21st century brings with it the grand challenge of changing the way we generate, supply, transmit, store, and use energy to meet the world’s growing demands. To address this challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy has established a network of Energy Frontier Research Centers throughout the nation, each focusing on specific scientific questions and problems. PNNL is the lead institution for the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis (CME), an EFRC established in 2009 to determine the fundamental principles needed for efficient interconversion of electrical energy and chemical bonds through precise control of electron and proton transfers.
At this center for collaboration and innovation, researchers work with new and specialized tools to understand and manipulate matter on the atomic and molecular scales. Teams are made up of researchers from universities, national laboratories, and private industry. Researchers work together to design electrocatalysts that store electrical energy in chemical bonds and allow their conversion back to electricity on demand. This research can improve reactions important for solar energy storage and fuel cells. Specifically, CME researchers are working to make hydrogen reactions faster and more efficient, discover more selective catalysts to split molecular oxygen, and improve important aspects of molecular nitrogen catalysts.
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