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Funding awarded for the 3D printing of clean energy reactors

The $50,000 FuzeHub grant, in partnership with Lithoz and Dimensional Energy, will be led by Sadaf Sobhani at Cornell University

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A new grant is bringing together a Cornell research group and industry partners to develop 3D printed ceramics that can be used to more efficiently break apart carbon emissions and turn them into clean energy. Sadaf Sobhani, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is leading a $50,000 FuzeHub grant in partnership with ceramic 3D printing company Lithoz America and energy startup Dimensional Energy.

Dimensional Energy, a Cornellian-founded and run company, uses energy reactors to convert carbon dioxide into chemicals that can be further processed into clean aviation fuel. Although, according to Cornell Chronicle, the technology has gained support from United Airlines and other investors, challenges still exist in scaling it up.

“Excellent thermal properties and corrosion resistance make ceramics attractive for these reactors, but significant design constraints limit their actual performance,” said Sadaf Sobhani. “The freedom of design and choice of materials enabled by ceramic additive manufacturing will narrow the theory-performance gap to hit the desired milestones.”

Funding awarded for the 3D printing of clean energy reactors. The FuzeHub grant will be led by Sadaf Sobhani at Cornell University.
An artist’s rendering of fluid strategically guided through a ceramic structure’s pores. Using an additive manufacturing technique researched by Cornell’s Sadaf Sobhani, tailored porous structures hold new opportunities for applications in thermofluidic systems. Source: Cornell Chronicle.

Sadaf Sobhani had previously partnered with Lithoz America to investigate how a combination of computational modeling and 3D printing could be used to create highly customized ceramic structures that can withstand the high temperatures used in reactors and other industrial settings. In another research project, Sadaf Sobhani highlighted the benefits of using 3D printing to rapidly prototype electrochemical reactors with unique shapes and designs that could optimize performance and conversion rates.

The FuzeHub grant will be used to develop new advanced printable ceramics that are better able to withstand the challenging operating environments of clean energy reactors, targeting specialized thermocatalytic reactors like those used by Dimensional Energy.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing our research to a market setting, and in particular to help create more environmentally responsible fuels and chemicals,” said Sadaf Sobhani.

The collaborative project is among nine others that recently received funding from FuzeHub, a not-for-profit organization providing resources to solve business growth challenges in New York state.

“Stronger domestic production supports a more resilient economy,” said FuzeHub executive director Elena Garuc, in an announcement about the funding. “During this round of Manufacturing Grants, many of the projects that were selected involved advanced materials. As awardees work to solve technical challenges, they’re also supporting the onshoring of production, which is crucial for supply chain resiliency, especially in these post-pandemic times.”

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