Dr. David Kwabi is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Kwabi obtained his PhD in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. The Kwabi research group investigates the interplay between electrochemical charge transfer reactions and bulk phase transformations, involving expertise in mechanical engineering, physical chemistry and materials science. This work is primarily motivated by a variety of energy storage applications such as metal-air/sulfur and redox-flow batteries, but bears relevance to molecular separation (e.g. CO2 capture) and photocatalytic processes as well.
Q: What does your research currently focus on?
A: My CO2-related research focuses on developing electrochemical methods of separating CO2 from flue gas/air at low economic and energetic cost. The separation approach I’ve been interested in as of late has been the electrochemical creation of a pH gradient, such that CO2 is absorbed into alkaline solution and released as a pure gas from acidic solution.
Q: What real world application or sector(s) do you see your research or tech having the most impact on?
A: Direct air capture of CO2, if it can be done cheaply enough, might become one of the key players in enabling effective carbon capture, utilization and/or sequestration for climate change mitigation.
Q: How has the Michigan community supported your efforts, or have there been any reactions from fellow faculty, students, researchers?
A: I’ve received an incredible amount of support and advice from Volker Sick, Director of the Global CO2 Initiative, and have benefited from interactions with several colleagues in the department of Chemistry here, besides those in my own department.
Q: Have you seen any growth in this field that gives you hope for future efforts?
A: The emergence of companies (e.g. Carbon Engineering, ClimeWorks) that are seriously trying to tackle direct air capture and the increasing prevalence of conference and media attention to carbon capture is very encouraging.