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NGenE

NGenE Group photo

NGenE selects up to 40 advanced graduate students and postdocs from around the country to partake in what is an intense week-long summer workshop that explores advanced topics in electrochemistry. They spend five days with ten distinguished researchers and lecturers to identify and elaborate on the most important unsolved electrochemical research challenges. They approach these questions through lectures and discussions, research project planning, mentoring, site visits, and demonstrations. The program takes place at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a day trip to Argonne National Laboratory for lectures and demonstrations of the Advanced Photon Source and the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research's Electrochemical Discovery Laboratory.

The program prioritizes 1) the discussion of unsolved challenges in electrochemistry that the coming generations will need to address, and 2) the identification of representative innovative, forward-looking multi-modal experiments, theory, and simulation to solve them.

Student Research Projects
Participants are active players during NGenE. Working in teams, they choose one of the top unsolved challenges in electrochemistry and then develop a scientific program to solve the problem through innovative experiments and theory. On the final day of the program, each team presents its findings before their peers and a set of expert judges.

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Motivation

Electrochemistry – the manipulation of electrical charge to drive chemical change – is central to applications and devices in fields as varied as medicine, environmental remediation and energy, and integrates concepts spanning chemistry, physics and engineering. Despite its reach and importance, electrochemistry has advanced more slowly over the last two decades than many companion fields such as nanoscience or semiconductors. Next Generation Electrochemistry (NGenE) will focus on the existing and emerging challenges in electrochemistry, and the application of innovative strategies in synthesis, characterization, theory and simulation to address these challenges.

Impact

NGenE is an annual event with content rotating among the unsolved fundamental electrochemical challenges and applications. Students and lecturers spend significant time talking and developing relationships that – we hope! – may become long term mentor-protégé bonds. The most talented students may return for subsequent institutes. With over 30 students per year, NGenE aims to influence the strategic directions of electrochemical science in the United States in the decades to come.

Intellectual Approach

Because the focus is on the frontiers of research and not the intricacies of what is known, NGenE graduate students and postdocs are among the brightest in their fields. The program challenges lecturers and participants to identify the most important questions for next generation research and to design innovative experimental and theoretical approaches to answer these questions. Therefore, participants are expected to absorb and exchange information at a high level. Relevant questions include:

  • What are the most important unsolved issues in a given area of electrochemistry?
  • What do we know for each part and how do we know it?  
  • What do we want to know but do not know, and how we would go about finding it out?  
  • What intuition or experience guides our speculation about what could happen? 

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Governance / Partners / Sponsors / Endorsements

NGenE 2022: Decarbonization Heading link

ngene decarbonization flier graphic

With the aim of arresting the global rise of temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, decarbonization of all economic sectors by 2050 has become an international goal. This goal requires a suite of technologies for residential grids or transportation and comparably more demanding sectors, such as manufacturing of commodity chemicals or recycling. A stretch goal would be to reach “negative emissions” through capturing and valorizing carbon dioxide already existing in the atmosphere.

With the sustained declines in the cost of renewable energy sources, electricity is poised to become sustainable and free of emissions by sidelining the combustion of fossil fuels. This transition unlocks compelling paths where many chemical processes are electrified. Batteries can shift electricity in space for transportation and in time to bridge gaps in supply and demand for the electricity grid and end-users such as buildings. Electrochemistry could replace thermochemistry driven by fossil heat with efficient processes driven by modest voltages at ambient conditions. A poster child is the industrial production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. Green hydrogen could itself become a carbon-free chemical energy carrier to replace hydrocarbons. It is now conceivable that electrochemistry could provide solutions for the industrial production of substances as varied as ammonia, iron and steel, cement, and even plastics, among other products.

Sponsored by the Electrochemical Society and the National Science Foundation, NGenE 2022 will examine the rapidly ballooning role of electrochemistry in decarbonization. The program will describe how this goal elevates emerging challenges at the frontiers of research in electrochemical science. A series of world-renowned experts will examine fundamental phenomena from several perspectives, identifying critical gaps in our understanding and applying innovative strategies to address them. The program assumes baseline knowledge and prior experience in electrochemistry. NGenE does not ask, “What is electrochemistry?” but instead, “What will electrochemistry become?”

2022 Faculty: Kamila Magdalena Wiaderek (Argonne National Lab), Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Brian Ingram (Argonne National Lab), Marta Hatzell (Georgia Tech), Iryna Zenyuk (University of California-Irvine), George Crabtree (UIC/Argonne National Lab), Rajeev Surendran Assary (Argonne National Lab), Papa Pietro (Argonne National Lab), Robert Klie (University of Illinois Chicago), Venkat Srinivasan (Argonne National Lab)

NGenE 2021: Inescapable Heading link

I. Can electrochemistry replace thermochemistry in industry?

With Marta Hatzell (Georgia Tech), Karthish Mathiram (MIT), Dan Steingart (Columbia U.) and Iryna Zenyuk (UC Irvine).

II. Frontiers in electrocatalysis

With Feng Jiao (U. Delaware), Aleksandra Vojvodic (U. Pennsylvania), and Jenny Yang (UC Irvine).

II. Frontiers in solvation science applied to electrochemistry

With Nitash Balsara (UC Berkeley/LBNL), Kristin Persson (UC Berkeley/LBNL), and Donald Siegel (U. Michigan).

IV. Frontiers in neuroelectrochemistry

With Christy Haynes (U. Minnesota), Janine Mauzeroll (McGill U.), Mei Shen (U. Illinois Urbana-Champaign), and Jill Venton (U. Virginia).

V. Frontiers in our understanding of local effects in electrochemistry

With Nina Balke (ORNL/North Carolina State U.), Joaquín Rodríguez-López (U. Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Debra Rolison (Naval Research Laboratory), and Reza Shahbazian-Yassar (U. Illinois at Chicago).

VI. Ask me anything about batteries with Venkat Srinivasan (ANL)

VII. Frontiers in corrosion

With Santanu Chaudhuri (U. Illinois at Chicago/Argonne), Adrien Couet (U. Wisconsin-Madison), and Jason Hattrick-Simpers (NIST).

VIII. Publishing electrochemical research

With Prashant Kamat (U. Notre Dame/ACS Energy Letters), Janine Mauzeroll (McGill U./Journal of the Electrochemical Society), Shelley Minteer (U. Utah/ACS Au), and Alexandra Stephan (Cell Publishing/Joule).

IX. Electrochemistry Career Panel (private)

With Debra Rollison (Naval Research Laboratory), Iryna Zenyuk (UC Irvine), Prashant Kamat (U. Notre Dame/ACS Energy Letters), Jenny Yang (UC Irvine), Shelley Minteer (U. Utah/ACS Au), Karthish Mathiram (MIT), Marta Hatzell (Georgia Tech), Christy Haynes (U. Minnesota), Janine Mauzeroll (McGill U./Journal of the Electrochemical Society), Alexandra Stephan (Cell Publishing/Joule), Donald Siegel (U. Michigan) and James Noël (ECS Education Committee/Western University).

NGenE 2020: All Live Stream Panels Heading link

Due to the Coronavirus, NGenE 2020 went all digital. Check out the panels on this playlist:

I. NGenE 2020 Announcement

II. Frontiers in Energy Storage: Batteries are now an innovation worthy of a Nobel Prize. But, are we done making them better? What fundamental questions remain in electrochemistry that impede further meaningful advances? What are the limits that can be reached with electrochemical energy storage?

With Stan Whittingham (Binghamton University), Héctor D. Abruña (Cornell University), George Crabtree (Argonne National Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago), and Clare Grey (Cambridge University).

III. Integrating computational and experimental approaches at the electrochemical frontiers: Many frontier challenges in electrochemical research are becoming too large for a single approach to solve them. It is increasingly important to create feedback loops between computational and experimental methods, and integrate their power wherever possible. But this goal is easier said than done. This panel will promote a dialog between disciplines that are very often walled off. What kind of experimental inputs would models benefit from? How could experiments and characterization be best guided by computations? Can computational analysis directly be integrated into data analysis of experiments?

With Don Siegel (University of Michigan), Perla Balbuena (Texas A&M), Mike Toney (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), and Andrew Gewirth (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

IV. Frontiers in electrochemistry at the water/energy nexus: Access to clean water is a vital tenet of a healthy society. Yet climate change and increases in consumption of energy place severe pressures on the water supply. How can emerging technologies based on electrochemistry contribute to producing clean water that is safe to drink? What fundamental barriers in electrochemistry must be addressed for these technologies to have a meaningful impact?

With Jelena Radjenovic (Institut Català de Recerca de l’Aigua, Spain), David Jassby (University of California, Los Angeles), Brian Chaplin (University of Illinois at Chicago), and Douglas Call (North Carolina State University).

V. Frontiers in organic electrochemistry: Electrochemical driving forces are a powerful means to reach chemical states extremely far from equilibrium. They have opened up new routes toward sophisticated modifications of organic compounds. What are the opportunities in the area of organic electrochemistry? How far are we in our ability to control carbon bonds with electrochemistry? What new knowledge is urgently needed for leaps in our current ability?

With Song Lin (Cornell University), Kevin Moeller (Washington University-St Louis), Shelley Minteer (University of Utah), and Phil Baran (Scripps Research Institute).