Kelly Chou

Nanoconfined Phase Change Materials for Aqueous Thermal Management

Over 40% of U.S. freshwater withdrawals are used for the generation of thermoelectric power: more than the amount withdrawn for agricultural irrigation and domestic use combined. Such high water demand can largely be attributed to waters critical role as an industrial coolant. Phase change materials can greatly decrease the volume of water required to cool thermoelectric power generators. PCMs work by absorbing heat through a phase transition, and can greatly increase the heat capacity of water. Sugar alcohols, like erythritol, are ideal phase change materials because they are cheap, widely available, non-toxic, and have very high latent heats. The Urban Group has developed a novel composite phase change material that is composed of sugar alcohols contained within the pores of metal organic framework. Their confinement within the MOF has been observed to depress their phase transition temperature by ~90C, making their use in cooling waters possible. The focus of my project this summer will be to understand the factors that influence the depression of phase transition temperature in nanoconfined sugar alcohols.

Message to Sponsor

My experience as a SURF fellow has given me the resources to develop my skills as a full-time researcher. This summer, I engaged deeply with aspects of research beyond lab work, honed my writing skills, and am in the exciting process of submitting my first publication. This experience has showed me a completely different side of research compared to the research I do during an average semester, and I was able to contribute much more to my research project. Additionally, the invaluable input from my SURF mentor and discussion group has made me a better researcher and has given me a diverse set of skills I can use in both an industry and academic career. For this, I would like to again express my appreciation for the generous support of the Rose Hills Foundation, for making this experience possible.
  • Major: Chemistry
  • Sponsor: SURF Rose Hills Experience
  • Mentor: Jeffrey Urban