Funding awarded for 3D printing of clean energy reactors

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A new grant brings together a Cornell research group and industry partners to develop 3D-printed ceramics that can be used to more efficiently separate carbon emissions and turn them into clean energy. Sadaf Sobhani, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is leading a $50,000 FuzeHub grant in partnership with ceramic 3D printing company Lithoz America and energy startup Dimensional Energy.

Dimensional Energy, a company founded and run by Cornellian, uses energy reactors to convert carbon dioxide into chemicals that can then be turned into clean aviation fuel. Although, according to the Cornell Chronicle, the technology has gained support from United Airlines and other investors, there are still challenges in developing it.

“Excellent thermal properties and corrosion resistance make ceramics attractive for these reactors, but significant design constraints limit their actual performance,” said Sadaf Sobhani. “The freedom of design and choice of materials enabled by ceramic additive manufacturing will reduce the theory-performance gap to achieve the desired milestones.”

Artistic representation of a fluid strategically guided through the pores of a ceramic structure. Using an additive manufacturing technique researched by Cornell’s Sadaf Sobhani, the custom porous structures offer new opportunities for applications in thermofluidic systems. Source: Cornell Chronicle.

Sadaf Sobhani previously partnered with Lithoz America to investigate how a combination of computer modeling and 3D printing could be used to create highly customized ceramic structures that can withstand the high temperatures used in reactors and other industrial environments. In another research project, Sadaf Sobhani highlighted the benefits of using 3D printing to rapidly prototype electrochemical reactors with unique shapes and designs that could optimize performance and conversion rates.

The FuzeHub grant will be used to develop new advanced printable ceramics that are better able to withstand the harsh operating environments of clean energy reactors, targeting specialty thermocatalytic reactors like those used by Dimensional Energy.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing our research to market, and in particular to helping create more environmentally friendly fuels and chemicals,” said Sadaf Sobhani.

The collaborative project is among nine others that recently received funding from FuzeHub, a nonprofit organization providing resources to address business growth challenges in New York State.

“Stronger domestic production supports a more resilient economy,” FuzeHub executive director Elena Garuc said in a funding announcement. “During this round of manufacturing grants, many of the projects selected involved advanced materials. supply chain, especially in these post-pandemic times.


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