Prof. Narayan's research focuses on the fundamental and applied aspects of electrochemical energy conversion and storage to reduce the carbon footprint of energy use through renewable energy generation and by providing energy alternatives to fossil fuel. To this end, group focuses on:
- Developing electrochemical routes to liquid fuel from carbon dioxide and sunlight at high efficiency
- Developing advanced materials and systems technologies that will enable the large-scale commercialization of fuel cell and battery technologies
- Enabling renewable energy generation by developing large-scale electrical energy storage systems
These relationships are depicted in the figure below.
We also engage in the development of high energy density power sources for military, civilian, and aerospace applications. Other special applications of electrochemical conversion systems such as electro-synthesis, sensors, and water purification are also of interest to Prof. Narayan.
Prof. Narayan’s focus on the "end-to-end" approach to technology development begins with designing and selecting new materials, progressing to resolving issues with component and subsystem performance, culminating in scale up and technology transfer for commercialization. This approach prepares and enables the students and researchers in the group to support skills needed for being successful in academia and industry.
Specific research topics of current interest are:
- Multicomponent nano-structured catalysts with reduced platinum loading for fuel cells used in transportation and stationary applications
- Non-noble metal catalysts for alkaline membrane fuel cells for low-cost portable fuel cells
- High-activity catalysts for direct oxidation of organic fuels for portable power sources.
- Catalyst materials for high-efficiency fuel cells and electrolysis systems for aerospace and defense applications.
- Robust and efficient bi-functional air electrode for rechargeable metal –air batteries.
- An improved metal-air battery for large-scale electrical energy storage for the smart grid.
- Efficiency and selectivity in the electro-reduction of carbon dioxide to organic materials, critical to the utilization of renewable energy and production of carbon-neutral fuels.
Prof. Narayan received his Ph. D in electrochemistry from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and a Masters in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (Chennai). He was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Exeter, UK and also was awarded the Resident Research Associateship of the National Research Council to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. During his 20 years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) he led the fuel cell research activities for over 15 years and also headed the Electrochemical Technologies Group for 7 years. He has worked successfully with various government and private funding agencies to make advances in both fundamental and applied aspects of electrochemical power sources. While at JPL, Dr. Narayan and his associates pioneered the development of direct methanol fuel cell power sources for military and commercial applications, developed new approaches to catalyst preparation by the sputter-deposition technique, new membranes and stacks, and demonstrated a range of hybrid power source systems for space and defense application. He received NASA-JPL’s Exceptional Achievement Award for the development of direct methanol fuel cell and transferring the technology to industry. He has over 35 journal publications and 40 US Patents on various aspects of electrochemical technology. He has delivered invited talks on numerous occasions and has organized several conferences under the auspices of the Electrochemical Society. He is currently the Chairman of the Energy Technology Division of the Electrochemical Society of USA. He has active collaborations with various DoE’s National Laboratories and Industry. Prof. Narayan joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry, Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute in May 2010 to advance electrochemical power sources research.
- At least two post-doctoral research associate job openings are available in the group in 2010.
- Prof. Narayan is also welcoming interested graduate students to meet with him.
- He will teach a graduate class titled “Fundamentals of Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage” in Spring 2011.
- Awarded project on Anhydrous Proton Conductors for Electrochemical Compressors, Creare Inc. Missile Defense Agency.
Narayan Group Members:
Dr. Bo Yang, Ph.D Post Doctoral Associate ; Mr. Aswin Karthik Manohar, Senior Ph. D. Student.
3M Corporation, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USC (Prof. G. K. Surya Prakash, Prof. George. A. Olah, Prof. Florian Mansfeld), Creare Inc., Advanced Research Chemicals (Carbon-Fluorine compounds).
Selected Patents (from 40 Patents):
- S. R. Narayanan, T. I. Valdez and S. Firdosy, "Analysis of the Performance of Nafion-based Hydrogen-Oxygen Fuel Cells" J. Electrochem. Soc., 156 (2009) B152-B159.
- Whitacre JF, Valdez TI, Narayanan SR "A high-throughput study of PtNiZr catalysts for application in PEM fuel cells" Electrochimica Acta, Volume: 53 (2008) Issue: 10 Pages: 3680-3689.
- S. R. Narayanan, Shao-Pin Yen, S. Greenbaum, " Anhydrous Proton Conducting Polymer Electrolytes for Fuel Cells" J. Physical Chemistry B 110 3942. (2006).
- Jay Whitacre, T. I. Valdez and S. R. Narayanan, "The Discovery of Low Noble-Metal Content Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Electrocatalysts Via a Robust Combinatorial Technique", J. Electrochemical Society 152 A1780 (2005)
- S. R. Narayanan, T.I.Valdez, "Portable Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Systems", in "Handbook of Fuel Cells" Vol IV Part 1, (Eds. H. Gasteiger, A. Lamm and W. Veilstich), Wiley Interscience ( March 2003)
- Narayanan SR, Valdez TI, Chun W, "Design and operation of an electrochemical methanol concentration sensor for direct methanol fuel cell systems" Electrochem. Solid State Letters, 3: (3) 117-120 (2000).
- S. R. Narayanan et al, G. K. S. Prakash et al and J. Kosek et al, " Direct Electro-oxidation of Trimethoxymethane, Dimethoxymethane and Trioxane in Fuel Cells", J. Electrochemical Soc., 144 (1997) 4195.
- S,.Surampudi, S. R. Narayanan, E. Vamos, H. Frank and G. Halpert, "Advances in Direct Methanol Fuel Cells", J. Power Sources, 47(1994) 377-385. This article has been cited 200 times since it has been published and is one of the most cited papers on this topic.
- S. R. Narayanan, S. Surampudi, A. I. Attia and G. Halpert " Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy of Lithium-Titanium Disulfide Rechargeable Cells",J. Electrochem. Soc., 140(1993) 1854
- S. R. Narayanan, "Analysis of the failure mechanisms in magnesium/ manganese dioxide dry cells", J. Power Sources, 34 (1991) 13.
- US Patent 5599638 titled "Aqueous Liquid Feed Organic Fuel Cell using Solid Polymer Electrolyte Membrane" is the seminal patent in the area of Direct Methanol Fuel Cells that conceived and disclosed for the first time the features of a new type of fuel cell with energy content of ten to fifteen times that of advanced batteries.
- US Patent 5,773,162 Direct methanol feed fuel cell and system
- US Patent 6,444,343 titled "Polymer Electrolytes for use in fuel cells" discloses a novel polymer electrolyte system that addresses one of the major issues with direct methanol fuel cells namely that of methanol crossover. This membrane is enabling materials technology for direct methanol fuel cells
- US Patent 6,171,721 Sputter-deposited fuel cell membranes and electrodes
- US Patent 6,533,919 Hydrogen generation by electrolysis of aqueous organic solutions