|Tester Group | Cornell School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering|
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Research in Energy and the Environment
There are many indicators that suggest that we must change the ways we supply and use energy to a more sustainable energy system for the long term. One set relates to the environmental impacts created by the current approach, which relies heavily on fossil fuels while another set is directly related to our growing consumption of depletable fossil and other natural resources that are and will be needed to meet global energy demand. Environmental impacts from combustion range across scales from local to regional effects caused by particulate, sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions to global concerns over carbon dioxide emissions as a greenhouse gas. In addition, there are concerns over increases in land and water use needed for producing, extracting and converting various energy forms. Energy security concerns are also growing worldwide - driven by the geopolitical pressures caused by the maldistribution of fossil resources (oil, natural gas, and coal).
Professor Tester's research group has been developing a range of experimental and theoretical methods to probe kinetics, phase behavior and transport phenomena in hydrothermal and supercritical media at elevated temperatures and pressures. For example, measurements of reaction rates and product distributions have successfully been linked to ab initio quantum chemical calculations to quantify the effectiveness of reforming and oxidation processes in supercritical water at temperatures ranging from 400 to 700oC and pressures above 250 bar to detoxify chemical and military wastes. Improved fundamental understanding of the role of supercritical water, both as a solvent and as a reactant, has been obtained for a number of model wastes ranging from methylene chloride to methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) to methyl phosphoric acid.
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