Note: Coffee and snacks will precede the seminar at 3 p.m. in the Ford ES&T Building (first-floor atrium)
Gerardine Botte, Professor, Texas Tech University
"Electrochemical Technologies toward Sustainability and Circular Economy"
Circularity and sustainability are typically used together and sometimes interchangeably leading to confusion and diluting the importance and value of the actions related to each other. Electrochemical technologies are an excellent platform to contribute towards both sustainability and circularity. In this talk, I will present examples of electrochemical technologies that we are developing at the Chemical and Electrochemical Technology Innovation Laboratory at Texas Tech University towards water sustainability (e.g., ammonia and nitrate removal, electrochemical sensors), and circular economy including electrochemical valorization of sewage sludge, and electrochemical depolymerization of plastics.
Ammonia and nitrate emissions in water are associated with environmental problems such as algae bloom, disturbing the nitrogen cycle. In the presentation, I will discuss the implementation of ammonia electrolysis to remove both ammonia and nitrates from water and its contribution toward water sustainability. On the other hand, waste activated sludge (WAS) is the major byproduct of municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Management and disposal of WAS create challenges for WWTPs such as high energy consumption and operational costs. In this presentation, I will discuss the electrolysis of waste activated sludge (E-WAS) which enables biosolid solubilization and production of chemicals of value at low cell voltage and temperature under mild alkaline conditions. E-WAS would enable process intensification in municipal wastewater treatment plans and could transform sludge management operation from a cost model to a revenue generation model, leading towards circular economies.
Finally, within the topic of circularity, I will discuss a novel approach that leads to the electrochemical depolymerization of plastics.
Gerardine (Gerri) Botte is a Professor and Whitacre Endowed Chair in Sustainable Energy at Texas Tech University (TTU) and the Founding Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center for Advancing Sustainable and Distributed Fertilizer Production, CASFER, a $51million investment of the NSF plus an infrastructure that leverages a vibrant innovation ecosystem and institutional support of five partner academic institutions.She is also currently leading a new initiative at TTU for sustainability and circular economies, under a recently established Institute at TTU. She served as the Whitacre Department Chair in Chemical Engineering at TTU for three years before becoming CASFER Director.
In her tenure as Department Chair, she was instrumental in the implementation of curricula changes and the significant growth and record in research and restrictive research expenditures in the department. Gerri has over 25 years of experience in the development of electrochemical processes as they related to the intersection of energy, water, and food sustainability. She is a visionary and a recognized leader in electrochemical science and technology. She has served in leadership roles for both the International Society of Electrochemistry and the Electrochemical Society and is currently the President the Electrochemical Society (2023-204). In 2023, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Science of Venezuela, in 2014, she was named a Fellow of the Electrochemical Society for her contributions and innovation in electrochemical processes and engineering. She became a Chapter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2012.
Dr. Botte has 215 publications including peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, 62 granted patents, and 36 pending patents. Dr. Botte and members of her research group are working on the foundation of applying electrochemical engineering principles for advanced and sustainable manufacturing, process intensification, food/energy/water sustainability, and nanomaterials with expertise in electro-synthesis, batteries, electrolyzers, sensors, fuel cells, mathematical modeling, and electro-catalysis.
Dr. Botte is also an entrepreneur, she has been involved in the commercialization of technologies, has founded and co-founded companies, and serves as member of the board of directors in several companies. She received her Ph.D. in 2000 (under the direction of Dr. Ralph E. White) and M.E. in 1998, both in Chemical Engineering, from the University of South Carolina. Prior to graduate school, Dr. Botte worked as a process engineer in a petrochemical plant; she was involved in the production of fertilizers and polymers. Dr. Botte received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Universidad de Carabobo (Venezuela) in 1994. She can be reached at Gerri.Botte@ttu.edu