Al Weimer
H.T. Sears Memorial Professor
(303) 492-3759

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Education

B.S., University of Cincinnati (1976)
M.S., Ph.D., University of Colorado (1978, 1980)
Dow Chemical Company(1980-1996)

Awards

  • 2017 AIChE Lifetime Achievement Award in Particle Technology
  • 2015 AIChE Research Excellence in Sustainable Engineering Award
  • 2015 AIChE Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum (NSEF) Forum Award
  • 2014  Department of Chemical Engineering Faculty Advising Award
  • 2011 Excellence in Bio-Derived Technology Commercialization (Colorado Cleantech Industry Assoc.)
  • Copernican Energy was co-founded by Professor Weimer and former PhD student Chris Perkins in 2006; it was acquired by Sundrop Fuels in July 2008 along with exclusively licensed IP. Sundrop was the recipient of a $155 million dollar investment from Chesapeake Energy.
  • 2010 AIChE Excellence in Process Development Research Award
  • 2010 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research (College of Engineering and Applied Science)
  • 2009 AIChE Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems
  • 2007 University of Colorado Physical Science Company of the Year Award – ALD NanoSolutions
  • 2006 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award (University of Colorado)
  • 2006 Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Technology Award (via ALD NanoSolutions, Inc.)
  • 2006 Inducted into University of Colorado “Pinnacles of Inventorship” Group
  • 2005 University of Colorado Boulder Faculty Assembly Excellence in Research, Scholarly and Creative Work Award
  • 2005 University of Colorado College of Engineering and Applied Science Faculty Research Award
  • 2005 United States Department of Energy Hydrogen Program R&D Award
  • 2004 R & D 100 Award (Particle-ALD)
  • 2004 University of Colorado (Boulder) Inventor of the Year Award
  • 2004 AIChE Fellow
  • 2000, 2001 Department of Chemical Engineering Faculty Mentor Award (by students)
  • 1997 AIChE Particle Technology Forum Fluidized Processes Recognition Award
  • 1995 Dow Chemical Company Excellence in Science Award
  • 1994 Dow Chemical Company Ceramics Technology Leadership Special Recognition Award
  • 1993 Dow Chemical Company Research Inventor of the Year Award
  • 1993 Dow Chemical Company Ceramics Milestone Award
  • 1993 Mid-Michigan AIChE Professional Progress Award
  • 1992 Mid-Michigan Sigma Xi “Best Published Scientific Paper of the Year Award”
  • 1991 Distinguished Young Engineering Alumnus (University of Cincinnati)
  • 1990 Dow Chemical Company Spangenberg Ceramics Founder’s Award
  • 1976 University of Cincinnati Herman Schneider Medal

Selected Publications

  • Hoskins, A.L., A.H. Coffey, C.B. Musgrave, and A.W. Weimer, “ Nanostructured Mullite Steam Oxidation Resistant Coatings for Silicon Carbide Deposited via Atomic Layer Deposition, Journal of the American Ceramic Society,  doi: 10.1111/jace.15408  (online, 2018)
  • Arifin, D. and A.W. Weimer, “Kinetics and Mechanism of Solar-thermochemical H2 and CO Production by Oxidation of Reduced CeO2,” Solar Energy, 160, 178-185 (2018).
  • Zhang, S., E. Yu, S. Gates, W. Cassata, J. Makel, A.M. Thron, C. Bartel, A.W. Weimer, R. Faller, P. Strieve, and J.W. Tringe, “Helium Interactions with Alumina formed by Atomic Layer Deposition show Potential for Mitigating Problems with Excess Helium in Spent Nuclear fuel,” J of Nuclear Materials, 499, 301-311 (2018).
  • Rowe, S.C., M.A. Wallace, A. Lewandowski, R.P. Fisher, W.R. Cravey, D.E. Clough, I. Hischier, and A.W. Weimer, “Experimental Evidence of an Observer Effect in High-Flux Solar Simulators,” Solar Energy, 158, 889-897 (2017).
  • Chubukov, B.A., A.W. Palumbo, S.C. Rowe, M.A. Wallace, and A.W. Weimer, “Enhancing the Rate of Magnesium Oxide Carbothermal Reduction by Catalysis, Milling, and Vacuum Operation,” Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 56 (46), 13602-13609 (2017).
  • Al-Shankiti, I., B.D. Ehrhart, and A.W. Weimer, “Isothermal Redox for H2O and CO2 Splitting – A Review and Perspective,” Solar Energy, 156, 21-29 (2017).
  • Yang, L., L. Jiang, W. Fu, A.W. Weimer, X. Hu, and Y. Zhou, “TiO2 Quantum Dots Grown on Graphene by Atomic Layer Deposition as Advanced Photocatalytic Hybrid Materials,” Applied Physics A, 123, 416 (2017).
  • Lubers, A.M., W.W. McNeary, D.J. Ludlow, A.W. Drake, M. Faust, M.E. Maguire, M.U. Kodas, M. Seipenbusch, and A.W. Weimer, “Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Flooding Caused by Residual Functional Groups after Platinum Atomic Layer Deposition,” Electrochimica Acta, 237, 192-198 (2017).
  • Hischier, I., B.A. Chubukov, M.A. Wallace, R.P. Fisher, A.W. Palumbo, S.C. Rowe, A.J. Groehn, and A.W. Weimer “A Novel Experimental Method to Study Vapor Metal Condensation/Oxidation:  Mg in CO and CO2 at Reduced Pressures,” Solar Energy, 139, 389-397 (2016).
  • Groehn, A.J., A. Lewandowski, R. Yang, and A.W. Weimer, “Hybrid Radiation Modeling for Multi-phase Solar-thermal Reactor Systems Operated at High-temperature,” 140, 130-140 Solar Energy (2016).
  • Ehrhart, B.D., C.L. Muhich, I. Al-Shankiti, and A.W. Weimer “System Efficiency for Two-step Metal Oxide Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Production – Part 1:  Thermodynamic Model and Impact of Oxidation Kinetics,” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 41 (44), 19881-19893 (2016) 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2106.07.109.
  • Ehrhart, B.D., C.L. Muhich, I. Al-Shankiti, and A.W. Weimer “System Efficiency for Two-step Metal Oxide Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Production – Part 2:  Impact of Gas Heat Recuperation and Separation Temperatures,” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 41 (44), 19894-19903 (2016) 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2106.07.110.
  • Ehrhart, B.D., C.L. Muhich, I. Al-Shankiti, and A.W. Weimer “System Efficiency for Two-step Metal Oxide Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Production – Part 3:  Various Methods for Achieving Low Oxygen Partial Pressures in the Reduction Reaction,” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 41 (44), 19904-19914 (2016) 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2106.07.106.
  • Chubukov, B.A., A.W. Palumbo, S.C. Rowe, I. Hischier, A.J. Groehn, and A.W. Weimer “Pressure Dependent Kinetics of Magnesium Oxide Carbothermal Reduction,” Thermochimica Acta, 636, 23-32 (2016).
  • Lubers, A.M., A. W. Drake, D. J. Ludlow, and A. W. Weimer, “Electrochemical Hydrogen Pumping using a Platinum Catalyst made in a Fluidized Bed via Atomic Layer Deposition,” Powder Technology, 296, 72-78 (2016).
  • Bartel, C.J., C.L. Muhich, A.W. Weimer, and C.B. Musgrave, “Aluminum Nitride Hydrolysis Enabled by Hydroxyl-Mediated Surface Proton Hopping,” Applied Materials & Interfaces, 8, 18550-18559 (2016).
  • Muhich, C.L., B.D. Ehrhart, I. Alshankiti, B.J. Ward, C.B. Musgrave, and A.W. Weimer, “A Review and Perspective of Efficient H2 Generation via Solar Thermal Water Splitting,” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews:  Energy and Environment, 5, 261-287 (2016).
  • Aston, V.J. and A.W. Weimer, “Comparison of Ni and Co Mixed Metal Ferrites for H2 Production Using Chemical Looping,” Energy Technology, 4 (10), 1188-1199 (2016).
  • Muhich, C.L., V.J. Aston, R.M. Trottier, A.W. Weimer, and C.B. Musgrave, “First Principles Analysis of Cation Diffusion in Mixed Metal Ferrite Spinels,” Chemistry of Materials, 28, 214-226 (2016).

Research Interests

Particle Surface Modification; Solar-thermal Processing; Nano-energy

Particle Surface Modification:
There is an interest in functionalizing high surface area fine particles by controlling their surface chemistry while maintaining bulk properties. A powerful method co-invented/developed in the lab is to use atomic layer deposition (ALD) to deposit nearly perfect ultrathin nano-thick films at angstrom level precision onto primary particles. The current focus in the lab includes developing a fundamental understanding of the fluidized bed reactor process used to carry out the coating and improving the process as well as expanding the applications. Challenges include operation under reduced pressure and the ability to fluidize nano-particles. Alcohols are being investigated in lieu of water to investigate the effect of related surface functional groups for both reaction and reducing agglomeration of the particles during processing. Furthermore, studies include the use of microjets to aid in the fluidization of nano-particle processing. Applications vary and include catalysis, micro-electronic devices, pigments, sunscreen materials, nuclear materials, separations media, printed inks and the development of porous thin films with angstrom control of pore diameter. Students in the lab have pioneered Particle ALD innovation and have been recognized with cover articles in Nanotechnology, best dissertation awards in the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Best Ph.D. in Particle Technology Award by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Solar-thermal Processing:
Ultra-high temperatures above 1200oC can be achieved using concentrated sunlight. Such heating can be used to drive thermal dissociation/cracking type chemical reactions where intermediate products are undesirable and where such high temperatures thermodynamically favor the desired reaction products. Two such reactions currently being investigated include the gasification/pyrolysis of biomass and splitting of water, carbon dioxide or mixtures to produce hydrogen or intermediate synthesis gas which can be subsequently reformed to fungible liquid fuels. Current research is focused on improving fundamental understanding of the process and optimal design of solar-thermal chemical reactors/receivers. Projects include CFD modeling of multi-tubular reactor systems, the evaluation of materials suitable for solar-thermal processing and the control of such processes. Solar reactors are designed and built in the lab/shop on skids and then transported to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) where experiments are carried out on-sun at the High-flux Solar Furnace. Additional experiments are carried out at CU using electrically heated reactors. Models are being developed to complement the experiments and to develop an understanding of the reaction kinetics and heat transfer in such processes. The design and demonstration of solar-thermal chemical reactors is a key core competency of the lab, which is one of the only such locations for this expertise in the world.

Nano-energy:
Research is directed at the interface of surface functionalization using ALD and solar-thermal processing to develop thin film materials that provide for rapid solar thermal cycling to split water and/or carbon dioxide. The focus of the work is development of ferrite spinel materials that can be thermally reduced at high temperatures to release oxygen and then are subsequently exposed to water, producing high purity hydrogen and recovering the original ferrite spinel form in the process. The use of thin films reduces diffusional limitations and provides for an opportunity to cycle the active materials quickly in order to produce renewable hydrogen in an economic fashion. Projects in this area are focused on producing high surface area substrates to be used for the deposition, demonstration of the materials and identification of the kinetics using stagnation flow reactors and a thermogravimetric analyzer. Efforts are also underway to evaluate the robustness of the active materials and their application in devices for demonstration on-sun at the NREL. Major developments in the lab include the discovery and demonstration of materials to carry out thermal reduction at about 250oC below conventional ferrites, at temperature far below liquid phase sintering where rapid and permanent deactivation would occur.

Additional Resources

Sundrop Fuels Inc. resulted from Dr. Weimer's research; read a related article in Science.

>>Read more about Dr. Weimer's research in solar thermal hydrogen fuel production.