Agnes S. MacDonald Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ann Anderson, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Brad Bruno, and Dwane W. Crichton Professor of Chemistry Mary Carroll were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Technology Translation (TT) grant for their project PFI-TT: Development of Aerogel Materials for Automotive Pollution Reduction (NSF Award ID: 1918217).
This grant funds the development of sustainable, environmentally friendly aerogel materials that have potential for reducing pollution from automobiles. Catalytic converters, the existing technology used to reduce pollution, contain expensive, rare materials and do not perform well under cold-start conditions. Aerogel-based catalytic converters would provide an economically attractive and sustainable alternative approach to reducing automotive pollution and would have a positive economic and environmental impact on the nation. Aerogels offer high temperature stability, large surface area, low mass, and tunable chemistry that make them viable candidates for an alternative technology.
In addition to the scientific goals of this project, the project team will develop a combined research/entrepreneurship practicum to engage students, including those from traditionally underrepresented groups, in STEM and entrepreneurship by actively learning how to bring technology developed through fundamental research to the marketplace. This new model will provide students with substantial entrepreneurial experience at the point when such training could have the greatest possible impact: prior to entering graduate school or the STEM workforce.