Dr. Brenda L. Garcia-Diaz is the manager of the Energy Materials Group in SRNL. She has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina with a specialization in electrochemical engineering. She has developed Nb-doped TiO2 electrocatalysts and developed models to better understand DMFC operation. Dr. Garcia-Diaz helped develop electrochemical synthesis methods for aluminum hydride. She has worked on novel electrochemical methods for nuclear fuel processing including the development of an electrochemical fluorination method for processing used nuclear fuel, direct LiT electrolysis for tritium recovery in fusion applications, and reduction of oxide nuclear fuels utilizing a solid oxide conducting anode. Dr. Garcia-Diaz is the principal investigator on a DOE SunShot program to investigate and mitigate corrosion in high temperature molten salt heat transfer systems for concentrating solar power (CSP) applications. She is the molten salt corrosion consultant to NREL for the development of a Gen 3 CSP system. Dr. Garcia-Diaz has also led research on the development of MAX phase coatings for accident tolerant nuclear fuel. She has led collaborations with multiple industrial partners, universities, and national laboratories.
Dr. Garcia-Diaz was awarded the ASM International Silver Award, the South Carolina Governor’s Young Researcher award, and the SRNL Early Career Award. In 2018, her project on electrochemical fluorination also won the inaugural SRNL award for LDRD return on investment. Dr. Garcia-Diaz serves as a Board Member for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers RAPID program for process intensification. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of South Carolina in the Chemical Engineering Department. Dr. Garcia-Diaz is a member of the Hanford Tank Integrity Expert Panel.
She is a materials engineer for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in charge of determining new fluid formulations (molten salts, liquid metals, supercritical) for thermal applications. She is researching in corrosion mitigation to control degradation at high temperature under extreme conditions (mechanical, chemical, and thermal). She has become a material’s expert in solar thermal applications. She successfully managed complex, multimillion dollar projects, including coordinating multiple partners and professional scientists and engineers. Her understanding of the interaction of materials with the surrounding environment is key for selecting the appropriate materials used in thermal energy storage and heat transfer fluid systems. She has a patent, multiple publications in molten-salt utilization and characterization with applications as sensible heat fluid and phase-change materials, and other publications on corrosion evaluation of ceramics, alloys and surface treatments for high-temperature applications in harsh environments. She earned a bachelor’s and master’s in materials engineering from Simon Bolivar University and a doctorate from Colorado School of Mines in metallurgical and materials engineering. She also holds a research assistant professor appointment in the Metallurgical & Materials Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines. She has accumulated over 25 years of experience in materials science and engineering.