As a founding faculty member of Wake Forest’s new undergraduate program in engineering, chemical engineer Michael Gross gets to feed two passions: his love for science and his fascination with the philosophy of teaching. He has been a standout in both areas, receiving the prestigious National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award in 2017. The prize provides him with $500,000 in funding over five years to study high-powered fuel cell technologies. It also honors junior faculty who are noted teacher-scholars, integrating research and education. He also received the 2015 Wake Forest University Innovative Teaching Award.
Areas of Expertise (12)
Student motivation and motivation theory in STEM courses
High-powered fuel cell technologies
Materials engineering and processing
Solid state materials for electrochemical energy conversion
Multifunctional ceramic composites for solid oxide fuel-cell electrodes
Activity-level, or situational, student motivation in STEM courses and practical course design
University of Pennsylvania: Ph.D., Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Pennsylvania: M.S., Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Bucknell University: B.S., Chemical Engineering
Media Appearances (2)
How a WFU researcher is using nanomaterials to develop more efficient power sources
Triad Business Journal
Michael Gross, a chemistry professor at Wake Forest University, has won a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program Award. The prize, which comes from the foundation’s Directorate for Engineering, will provide $500,000 over a five year period.
WFU chemistry professor receives award
Wake Forest chemistry professor Michael Gross has been named a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program Award winner. Gross seeks to create and preserve nanomaterials at incredibly high temperatures. His work provides a foundation for realizing more efficient, high-powered fuel cell technologies.
High surface area solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) electrode scaffold materials were prepared at traditional sintering temperatures by sintering hybrid inorganic-organic gels in argon. The prepared materials were yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ, 8 mol% Y2O3), gadolinia doped ceria (GDC, Ce0.8Gd0.2O3-δ)and strontium titanate (STO, SrTiO3). Gels were prepared via the citric acid (Pechini) method and the propylene oxide method. The gels were sintered between 1050oC and 1350oC in argon, creating an amorphous carbon template in situ, which preserved a ceramic scaffold nanostructure. The carbon template was removed upon heating in air to 700oC. Specific surface areas up to 83, 95, and 99 m2/g were achieved for YSZ, GDC, and STO, respectively. The carbon template concentration and resulting surface areas are tunable by modifying the gel formulations. Symmetric cathode cells were prepared with traditional and nanostructured YSZ. As expected, the gel-derived, nanostructured YSZ improved electrode performance.
A mechanistic model for the prediction of total and active three phase boundary density (TPB), in combination with effective conductivity, of infiltrated solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) electrodes is presented. Varied porosities, scaffold:infiltrate size ratios, and pore:infiltrate size ratios were considered, each as a function of infiltrate loading. The results are presented in dimensionless form to allow for the calculation of any infiltrate particle size. The model output compares favorably to the available experimental result. The results show that the scaffold:infiltrate size ratio has the greatest impact on the TPB density, followed by the porosity and then the pore:infiltrate size ratio. The TPB density is shown to monotonically decrease with increasing scaffold:infiltrate and pore:infiltrate size ratios; however, it shows a maximum with respect to porosity. Each of these results are explained by examining the interfacial areas of each of the three phases as a function of the infiltrate loading. The model provides insight toward the rational design of infiltrated electrodes.
Ceramic anodes comprising infiltrated Formula in porous ytttria-stabilized zirconia were investigated. Upon reduction at Formula , the electronically insulating Formula phase transformed to Formula , which has a bulk electronic conductivity of Formula under fuel cell conditions. An anode conductivity of Formula was achieved with a low Formula loading of Formula of the total anode. The infiltrated composite is dimensionally stable upon redox cycling, and a Pd catalyst was required to achieve good fuel cell performance. Fuel cell performance with methane was lower than with hydrogen. This lower methane performance could be due to coking.