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Recent News

Spring 2024


Solar Energy Research Group members Jonathan Turnley and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s Feature Article “Solution processed metal chalcogenide semiconductors for inorganic thin film photovoltaics” was published in RSC Chemical Communications.

Solar Energy Research Group member Shriya Khandelwal was awarded the Undergraduate Research Award. Congratulations, Shriya.

Solar Energy Research Group member Jonathan Turnley was awarded College of Engineering Outstanding Research Award. Congratulations Jonathan!

In collaboration with Prof. Edgardo Saucedo’s group at UPC Spain, Solar Energy Research Group members Jonathan W. Turnley, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Novel synthesis of semiconductor chalcohalide anti-perovskites by low-temperature molecular precursor ink deposition methodologies” was published in Journal of Materials Chemistry C.

Solar Energy Research Group members Daniel C. Hayes, Samantha A. Langdon, Robert M. Spilker, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Carbon Impurity Minimization of Solution-Processed, Thin-Film Photovoltaics via Ligand Engineering of CuInS2 Nanoparticles” was published in ACS Applied Energy Materials.

Fall 2023


In collaboration with Prof. Lydia Wong’s group at NTU Singapore, Solar Energy Research Group members Ryan Swope, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Efficiency enhancement and doping type inversion in Cu2CdSnS4 solar cells by Ag substitution” was published in Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

Solar Energy Research Group members Shubhanshu Agarwal, Kyle Weideman, David Rokke, Kiruba Catherine Vincent, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Enhancing the optoelectronic properties of solution-processed AgInSe2 thin films for application in photovoltaics” was published in Journal of Materials Chemistry C.

Solar Energy Research Group members Jonathan Turnley, Swapnil Deshmukh, Ryan Ellis, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Molecular Precursor Approach to Sulfur-Free CuInSe2: Replacing Thiol Coordination in Soluble Metal Complexes” was published in ACS Omega.

Solar Energy Research Group member Jonathan Turnley was awarded 2nd place for his presentation at the AICHE Electronic and Photonic Materials: Graduate Student Awards session. Congratulations Jonathan!

Solar Energy Research Group members Apurva Pradhan, Scott McClary, Kyle Weideman, Shriya Khandelwal, Joseph Andler, David Rokke, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Tuning the optoelectronic properties of enargite (Cu3AsS4) solar cells by Ag alloying: A DFT-informed synthesis” was published in Applied Physics Letters.

Solar Energy Research Group members Jonathan Turnley, Swapnil Deshmukh, Robert Spilker, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “A selenium-based “alkahest”: reactive dissolutions of metals and metal compounds with n-alkylammonium polyselenide solutions” was published in Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers.

Solar Energy Research Group members Shubhanshu Agarwal, Jonathan Turnley, Apurva Pradhan, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Moderate Temperature Sulfurization and Selenization of Highly Stable Metal Oxides: An Opportunity for Chalcogenide Perovskite” was published in Journal of Materials Chemistry C.

Spring 2023


Separations Research Group Members Tony Mathew, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Relaxing the constant molar overflow assumption in distillation optimization” was published in AIChE Journal.

Solar Energy Research Group member Isabel Panicker was awarded 1st place in the Purdue AICHE undergraduate poster competition. Congratulations, Isabel!

After graduation, Solar Energy Research Group undergraduate Isabel Panicker will be going to Georgia Tech to get a PhD in chemical engineering. Congrats, Isabel!

After graduation, Solar Energy Research Group undergraduate Kevin Ng will be joining Parker Hannifin in their Engineering Leadership Development Program. Congrats, Kevin!

Solar Energy Research Group undergraduate Lily Whitmoyer has accepted a summer internship position with Washington River Protection Solutions. Congrats, Lily!

Solar Energy Research Group members Apurva Pradhan and Kiruba Catherine Vincent presented at the 2023 MRS Spring Meeting and Exhibit in San Francisco, California.

Solar Energy Research Group member Jonathan Turnley presented at the ACS Spring 2023 meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Solar Energy Research Group member Jonathan Turnley presented at the 2023 Gordon Research Conference on Nanomaterials for Applications in Energy Technology in Ventura, California.

The Purdue OTC announced in their March update that Prof. Rakesh Agrawal, Zewei Chen, and Peter Oladipupo received a patent titled “Electrically Heated Dehydrogenation Process“.

Solar Energy Research Group members Apurva Pradhan, Shubhanshu Agarwal, Jonathan Turnley, Shriya Khandelwal, Ryan Swope, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Synthesis of BaZrS3 and BaHfS3 Chalcogenide Perovskite Films Using Single-Phase Molecular Precursors at Moderate Temperatures” was published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Solar Energy Research Group members Kiruba Catherine Vincent, Shubhanshu Agarwal, Jonathan Turnley, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Liquid Flux-Assisted Mechanism for Modest Temperature Synthesis of Large-Grain BaZrS3 and BaHfS3 Chalcogenide Perovskites” was published in Advanced Energy & Sustainability Research.

Fall 2022


In collaboration with ExxonMobil’s Research Group, Separations Research Group Members Tony Mathew, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Advances in distillation: Significant reductions in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions for crude oil separation” was published in Joule.

Separations Research Group Members Zheyu Jiang, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Minimum reflux calculation for multicomponent distillation in multi-feed, multi-product columns: Mathematical model” was published in AIChE Journal.

Solar Energy Research Group member Jonathan Turnley presented at the 2022 MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit in Boston, Massachusetts.

Solar Energy Research Group members Jonathan Turnley, Apurva Pradhan, Daniel Hayes, and Shubhanshu Agarwal presented at the 2022 AIChE Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

Solar Energy Research Group members Jonathan Turnley, Kiruba Catherine Vincent, Apurva Pradhan, Isabel Panicker, Ryan Swope, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Solution Deposition for Chalcogenide Perovskites: A Low-Temperature Route to BaMS3 Materials (M = Ti, Zr, Hf)” was published in Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Separations Research Group Members Akash Sanjay Nogaja, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Identifying Heat-Integrated Energy-Efficient Multicomponent Distillation Configurations” was published in I&EC Research Journal.

Separations Research Group Members Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Rakesh Agrawal, and Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani’s manuscript “Advances in MINLP to Identify Energy-Efficient Distillation Configurations” was published in Operations Research Journal.

Summer 2022


Separations Research Group Members Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Which separation scenarios are advantageous for membranes or distillations?” was published in AIChE Journal.

Solar Energy Research Group member Kevin Ng was awarded the Best Presentation Award at the Purdue Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. Congratulations Kevin!

Separations Research Group member Tony Mathew won the 2022 Graduate Student Research Award of the Distillation and Absorption Area of AIChE Separations Division. Congratulations Tony!

Spring 2022


Solar Energy Research Group member Apurva Pradhan was awarded the 2022 ChE Excellence in Safety award. Congratulations Apurva!

Solar Energy Research Group member Isabel Panicker’s poster received 2nd place in the College of Engineering at Purdue’s 2022 Spring Undergraduate Research Conference. Congratulations Isabel!

Solar Energy Research Group member David Rokke successfully defended his thesis and has accepted a position at Applied Materials. Congratulations David!

Solar Energy Research Group members David Rokke, Essam Alruqobah, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s review article “Extrinsic Doping of Ink-Based Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2-Absorbers for Photovoltaic Applications” was published in Advanced Energy Materials.

Solar Energy Research Group members Swapnil Deshmukh, Caleb Miskin, Apurva Pradhan, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Solution Processed Fabrication of Se-Te Alloy Thin Films for Application in PV Devices” was published in ACS Applied Energy Materials.

Solar Energy Research Group members Swapnil Deshmukh, Kyle Weideman, Ryan Ellis, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Enabling fine-grain free 2-micron thick CISe/CIGSe film fabrication via a non-hydrazine based solution processing route” was published in Materials Advances.

Solar Energy Research Group members Joseph Andler, Xianyi Hu, Scott McClary, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Analysis of enargite thin films synthesized from carbon-containing and novel carbon-free processing methods” was published in Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing.

Fall 2021


Solar Energy Research Group members Ryan Ellis, Swapnil Deshmukh, Jonathan Turnley, Dwi Sutandar, Jacob Fields, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Direct Synthesis of Sulfide-Capped Nanoparticles for Carbon-Free Solution-Processed Photovoltaics” was published in ACS Applied Nano Materials.

Energy System Group Members Zewei Chen, Yiru Li, Wasiu Peter Oladipupo, Edwin Rodriguez, Gary Sawyer, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Alternative ordering of process hierarchy for more efficient and cost-effective valorization of shale resources” was published in Cell Reports Physical Science.

Energy System Group Undergraduate Researcher Arsh Bhatia received OUR scholarship for 2021-2022 academic year. Congratulations Arsh!


Summer 2021


Separations Research Group Members Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Zewei Chen, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Energy-efficient membrane cascades for industrial separations” was published in Computer Aided Chemical Engineering.

Separations Research Group Members Tony Joseph Mathew, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “A Simple Criterion for Feasibility of Heat Integration between Distillation Streams Based on Relative Volatilities” was published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Separations Research Group Members Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Optimal design of membrane cascades for gaseous and liquid mixtures via MINLP” was published in Journal of Membrane Science.

Separations Research Group member Tony Joseph Mathew successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Tony!

Separations Research Group Members Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Methods to Assess Numerous Distillation Schemes for Binary Mixtures” was published in Chemical Engineering Research and Design.


Spring 2021


Tony Joseph Mathew and Zewei Chen both gave oral presentations at the 2021 AIChE Spring Meeting

Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Dattatray Deshmukh received the Outstanding Research Award 2021 from the College of Engineering. Congratulations, Swapnil!

Separations Research Group Member Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Systematic Analysis Reveals Thermal Separations Are Not Necessarily Most Energy Intensive” was published in Joule.


Fall 2020


Energy Systems Research Group member Zewei Chen received the Bill Murray Fellowship for 2020-21 academic year. Congratulations Zewei!


Separations Research Group members Tony Joseph Mathew, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Quickly Assess Distillation Columns” was published in Chemical Engineering Progress.


Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Deshmukh won the Second Place Award in the 2020 AIChE Graduate Student Award Competition in the Inorganic Chemistry Area. Congratulations Swapnil!


Separations Research Group member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Radhakrishna!


Summer 2020


Tony Joseph Mathew received first place for his Oral Presentation in the Energy and Process Intensification & Biotechnology category, and won the Best Overall award, at the 29th Annual Symposium organized by Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. Congratulations, Tony!


David Rokke received first place for his Oral Presentation in the Material Science category at the 29th Annual Symposium organized by Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. Congratulations, David!


Solar Energy Research Group members David Rokke and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to the 2020 Annual AIChE conference are accepted for an oral presentation and two Graduate Student Award Oral Presentations respectively.



 

Energy Systems

Our Motivation

For the past century, the energy sector has been dominated by fossil resources. Concerns regarding limited availability of fossil resources and increasing emission of greenhouse gases (GHG), however, have grown interests for advancement and implementations of alternative renewable energy conversion process such as wind turbines, photovoltaic devices, and concentrated solar power plants. Among these alternatives, solar energy conversion processes are prominent as solar energy is the only energy source that can independently meet all human energy needs due to its abundance. Yet its intermittencies and land availability constraints pose as the grand challenges for solar conversion process and demand high conversion efficiency and synergistically integrated solutions.

Combined Solar Economy and Challenges

Research

Our group focuses on developing and optimizing novel systems/processes to provide the energy requirements in the desired forms (transportation fuel, fertilizer, chemicals, electricity, heating) using solar energy. The fact that fossil resources will be in place for another century is not ignored in our studies and transition solutions using renewable energy sources and fossil resources in tandem are also considered.

Research Areas

  • Baseload Power Cycles from Solar Energy: Power generation is among the fastest growing sector and accounts for major stationary source (~40%) of global CO2 emission. Photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar plants (CSPs) are the two main power generation processes from solar energy. Existing CSPs remain far from its thermodynamically achievable efficiency limit. We investigated solar thermal water power cycle and discovered opportunities by identifying exergy losses, analyzing different heat integration techniques, and possible amalgamation with other chemical processes.

Hydricity

  • High Density, Efficient, Grid-Level Energy Storage from Renewable Energy: Due to the intermittency of renewable energy, energy storage is indispensable for providing continuous power. The current use of non-hydro renewable energy source is limited to peak shaving instead of baseload applications. In order to provide GWh-level continuous power from renewable energy, high storage efficiency and low storage volume are highly desirable for an efficiency energy storage. Our research focuses on chemical-based energy storage cycles, such as carbon storage cycles (CSCs) and hydrogen water storage cycles, that convert solar energy into different forms of energy.
  • Biofuel Production from Biomass: Petroleum derived liquid hydrocarbons have been the predominant fuel for the transportation sector. Concerns in green house gas (GHG) emission and scarcity of petroleum resource pushed for advancement for fuel production from alternative carbon sources such as biomass. However, supply of sustainably available (SA) is limited and standalone biomass-derived liquid fuel production is relatively low (30-40%). We investigated opportunities to increase biomass carbon conversion to liquid fuel by using supplemental non-carbon energy, such as solar energy.

Augmented Process

  • Biomass Processing and Integrated Biorefineries: More than 90% of the commodity chemicals produced in US are derived from fossil resources. Fossil fuel usage for energy and chemical production is a large contributor to the generation of GHG emissions. Substitution of fossil resources with biomass is one of the most promising alternatives for GHG reduction because carbon is withdrawn from the atmosphere via photosynthesis during feedstock growth and then is released upon combustion. In a more general sense, a biorefinery is a processing facility or a cluster of processing facilities that transform biomass into various value-added chemicals and forms of energy. Determining processes for a biorefinery design has been limited to heuristic approach and the entire biomass conversion reaction system is not well understood. Our research in this area focuses on developing a holistic approach to identify, create, evaluate new production routes and integration opportunities.

Modelling Approach

  • Process Design, Synthesis, and Discovery: We pursue the systematic development of new processes which meet the specified performance criteria of maximize carbon efficiency, energy efficiency, and minimum cost or maximum profit. Our approaches are based on an optimization framework where discrete and continuous decisions are modeled explicitly and we also utilize process simulation software such as AspenPlus. Our research focuses on (i) simulation, design, synthesis,and optimization of novel reaction networks for processes converting biomass to commodity chemicals and transportation fuels, (ii) design and optimization of processes that convert solar thermal into electricity, hydrogen, clean water, and fertilizer.
  • Macroscopic Systems Analysis and Integration: The grand challenges of a solar economy are highly intertwined. Considering the varying constraints in land availability and renewable energy intermittent nature, it is inevitable that the energy landscape of the future will not be dominated by a single source. Therefore, in order to enable a sustainable economy, we pursue to fully understand and appreciate the integrated nature of various energy resources and processes. Our research focuses on systematic analysis of the energy landscape to determine the limitations of different energy resources and assess their impacts to the existing and future energy demands.
  • Mathematical Modelling, Computational Optimization, and Analytic: Modeling process synthesis and problems in reaction engineering result in mixed-integer linear and nonlinear optimization formulations. We have studied modeling issues in process superstructure, heat integration, and reactor based systems.

Recent Publications

Complete list of Energy Systems Analysis publications.
Complete list of publications.