Erin Gleason selected as the Kaiser-Borsari Scholarship recipient
The College of Sciences and Technology is pleased to announce that Erin Gleason is the recipient of the 2007 Kaiser-Borsari Scholarship for Women in Materials Science, a $5000 scholarship for female undergraduates performing research in materials science and engineering.
Erin Gleason is a senior at Western Washington University. She is a chemistry major and plans on graduating in June 2009. In addition to chemistry, Erin enjoys physics and has already completed a minor here at Western. Upon graduation Erin plans on pursuing a doctoral degree in chemistry and to teach at a university level. Detailed below is a summary of her recent research.
Erin was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. She looks forward to returning to her home state. As a break from science, she enjoys playing bass in the Western Symphony Orchestra, riding Icelandic horses and spending time outdoors.
As a transportation fuel, hydrogen (H2) has the potential to be clean, more efficient, and more cost effective than the internal combustion engine. However, it will take decades to develop a hydrogen infrastructure. It is necessary, therefore, to create a transitional plan to move from the current fossil fuel economy to one that is based upon hydrogen. An excellent example of such a transition is a H2 fuel cell that uses conventional fossil fuels as the H2 source. Unfortunately, H2 fuel cells are deactivated by carbon monoxide (CO) – a side product of H2 production from fossil fuel (CxHy).
|CxHy + H2O||
|CO2 + H2||(+ CO impurities)|
The focus of my research has been to combat carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning of fuel cells by developing metal catalysts for the conversion of CO to CO2 via the water gas shift reaction shown below.
|CO + H2O||
|CO2 + H2||[water gas shift]|
I began my research by looking at gold nanoparticles supported on iron oxides. We selected iron oxides as our starting material because they are ubiquitous in nature, inexpensive, and catalytically active at low temperatures. I synthesized the iron oxides using a microemulsion approach in order to obtain uniform nanoscale particles. A microemulsion is defined as a system of water, oil and amphiphile (surfactant) combining to form reverse micelles. The iron oxide particles are synthesized inside the micelles and are thus confined to a specific size, which can be easily controlled via the molar ratio of water to surfactant. Currently nickel-boron and iron-boron catalysts for the water gas shift reaction are being synthesized.