Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Chemistry and Biochemistry


Tianbiao Leo Liu


Lisa Berreau


Steve Scheiner


With the growing global population comes the ever-increasing consumption of energy in powering cities, electric vehicles, and portable devices such as cell-phones. While the power grid is used to distribute energy to consumers, the energy sources needed to power the grid itself are unsustainable and inefficient. The primary energy sources powering the grid, being fossil fuels, natural gas, and nuclear, are unsustainable as the economically-accessible reserves are continually depleted in exchange for detrimental emissions and air-pollutants. Cleaner, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric, are intermittent and unreliable during the peak hours of energy usage, that is dawn and dusk. However, during waking hours and nighttime sleeping hours, energy consumption plummets resulting in substantial losses of potential energy as these intermittent energy providers do not have the infrastructure to store unused energy. Therefore, the research and development of efficient energy storage materials and renewable energy sources is critical to meet the needs of society in their fundamental operation while reducing harmful emissions. The research presented in this thesis focuses on selected energy storage materials and electrocatalysts as attractive technology for sustainable and benign renewable energy chemistry. Specifically, (1) theoretical studies on magnesium chloride / aluminum chloride electrolytes provide insight for further development of Mg batteries; (2) theoretical and experimental studies on viologen derivatives for organic redox flow batteries advance the development of these two-electron storage systems; and (3) a new iron(II) polypyridine catalyst that was found to electrochemically reduce CO2 to produce renewable fuels such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), and methane (CH4), as well as promote the photochemical CO2-to-methane conversion with visible light.



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