Dr. Gautum Gupta Receives Award from the Los Alamos National Lab

Headshot Gautum GuptaLate March, Dr. Gautum Gupta received an award from the Los Alamos National Lab for the development of 2D materials. A recent addition to the university with experience in the area of solar cells and electro-catalysts, Gupta is as an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering with a background working with the LANL.

In particular, Gupta and his team are looking for a more efficient power source for a vehicle. Electric powered vehicles are limited in range and scope, due not only to the fuel source, but in terms of battery life.

He explains, “Most current EVs use lithium-ion batteries that store no more than the equivalent of 16-24 kWh of energy in a single charge, short of the amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline. A subcompact car with a 10-gallon gas tank can store the energy equivalent of 7 Teslas, 15 Nissan Leafs or 23 Chevy Volts, according to industry sources.”

His solution is to develop a system fueled by solar energy that breaks down water molecules, which can be harnessed to power the vehicle, for more efficiently than an electric power system.

“We have been primarily setting up our lab to go from solar to water splitting, to use sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. We focus on rationally designing the materials for clean energy applications. Right now, the only catalyst that is good is platinum. We’re developing materials that are cheaper, to replace platinum with non-precious metal catalysts to make it more affordable. We need new materials,” says Gupta.

Part of his effort is to develop affordable and durable 2D materials to work in conjunction with the system.

“We invest in renewable energy. We keep pushing and developing new materials and show good applications and good performance,” says Gupta adding, “First step is your developing good solar cell materials. Second part is that you are developing catalyst to break the water into hydrogen and oxygen. The next step is that we need good materials, so that we can form water again in a fuel cell and get energy out.”