R2I at CCI: University of Massachusetts Amherst

CBCI: Fueling the Future - Fabricating New Molecules and Materials for Renewable Energy

Chemical Bonding Centers (CBC) Phase I program will carry out research addressing several fundamental aspects of proton transport, the molecular level process which underlies a number of important biological phenomena as well as the functioning of a central component in fuel cells. Proton transfer is a key aspect of a broad array of chemical problems, including acid-base reactions, energy storage and utilization, and catalysis. The center is focusing its investigation of the chemistry of proton conduction via site-to-site jumps and well-defined scaffolds. The main objectives are to (i) identify optimal functional groups and the underlying dynamics of facile proton transfer; and (ii) fabricate ideal scaffolds that produce stable and rapid proton conduction.

An important application area of this research is the design of better membranes for fuel cells. In keeping with this goal, the CBC will create a web-based entity, the National Chemical Energy Research Network, NCERN, that will (i) act as a dynamic interface among energy researchers and research centers; and (ii) foster better communication between chemists working on energy-related research and the general public. NCERN will facilitate the creation of wiki pages and will moderate interactive chats on these subjects. The center is having a broad impact both through the activities of NCERN as well as through its function as an interdisciplinary training center for graduate students and postdoctorals.