He received his bachelor's in chemistry from Reed College in 1990, and his doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University in 1996. He specializes in multi-disciplinary problem solving in the physical sciences and their corresponding engineering disciplines. Over his 22-year research and development (R&D) career, he has developed expertise in physical chemistry, chemical kinetics, atmospheric chemistry, instrumentation, electronics (digital, analog, power, and RF), spectroscopic sensing, lasers, fiber optics and wave guides, classical optics, electro-optics, electromagnetics, electromechanical systems, heat transfer, materials science, mechanical engineering, manufacturing processes, and renewable energy technologies.
He has won four R&D 100 Awards, holds numerous patents, has 10 active licenses on his inventions, and given many invited talks on the subject of serial innovation. In 2015, he was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as its Inaugural SunShot Innovator in Residence. He invented the Radical-Ion Flow Battery under the SunShot Innovator in Residence Program to address the need for low-cost, highly scalable electrochemical grid storage, and the performance limitations of prior art battery chemistries in this demanding application. His current research portfolio is focused on electrochemical grid storage, the elimination of rare-earth magnets in wind turbines, and semiconductor thermal management (power electronics, CPUs, GPUs).
He is a research scientist from Idaho National Laboratory (INL) with extensive experience in the fields of materials electrochemistry as applied to reactive and refractory metals, process metallurgy, synthesis and characterization of high-temperature metals and materials, energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and materials recycling. While working at Bhabha Atomic Research Center, India, he developed an entirely new (molten salt based) process flow-sheet for the production of vanadium metal with a view to fabricate a self-powered beta detector. He also worked on the development of a new high-temperature process for the production of commercial-grade zirconia and silica powders from the indigenously available zircon mineral. His other projects have been aimed at recovering valuable materials from waste, secondary resources, and lean ore bodies. His team could successfully develop a technology for the conversion of Zr-2.5Nb alloy scrap to high purity zirconium crystal bar by van Arkel de Boer process. This technology can be adopted to successfully transform the alloy scrap into high purity zirconium crystal bar, a metal of significant importance to the nuclear energy program. At the University of Cambridge, he worked on the process optimization studies pertaining to the preparation of titanium metal and its alloys by a novel molten salt electrochemical process. He developed a preparative process for titanium-lanthanum alloy from their mixed oxides. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he worked on a high-temperature electrochemical process to generate oxygen from the lunar regolith. This is one of the two technologies shortlisted by NASA for its eventual deployment to produce breathable oxygen from in situ (lunar) resources. At INL, the scientific underpinning of his research activities has been to study the behavior of metals and materials under a given set of conditions. His diverse research pursuits include materials electrochemistry, energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and materials recycling.
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.
He is a technical staff member at the Materials Synthesis and Integrated Devices (MPA-11) group. He received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) in February 1997. His thesis titled "Characterization of Mixed-Conducting Barium Cerate-Based Perovskites for Potential Fuel Cell Applications" was awarded the S. J. Stein Prize for superior achievement in the field of new or unique materials in electronics. His current research interests include fuel cells, energy storage devices, and electrochemical gas sensors. He currently serves as a Thrust Area Leader for the Consortium on Fuel Cell Performance and Durability (FC-PAD) and is PI on an energy storage project that develops non-aqueous flow batteries. He also serves as program manager for the DOE-EERE- Fuel Cell Technologies Office -hydrogen safety codes and standards sub program. He has led several projects at LANL funded by various agencies including, EERE-Fuel Cell Technologies office, ARPA-E, and EERE-Vehicle Technologies. He is the co-inventor on 6 US patents and has authored over 150 peer-reviewed journal and transaction papers, cited over 6000 times. His work has also been recognized through numerous awards including two R&D 100 awards in 1999 and 2017, the Scientific American’s top 50 Science and Technology achievements for 2003, the J.B Wagner Award of the High Temperature Materials Division of the Electrochemical Society in 2005 and the Sensor Division outstanding achievement award in 2016. He is a fellow of the Electrochemical Society and is currently serving as the technical editor in the area of Sensors and Measurement Sciences for the ECS Journals.
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