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Electro-Mineralization as a Pathway to Develop Sustainable Materials and Chemical Processes
Electro-mineralization of calcium hydroxide (first demonstrated in 20202) is a dynamic process occurring at a bi-phasic, micrometer-scale interface and, thus, is particularly difficult to study. Our pioneering approach leverages and extends brand-new ERDC capabilities to fabricate novel micro-interfaces (ProtoLaser U4 Laser Ablation System, ITL), model theoretical pH gradients (COMSOL Multiphysics, GSL), and measure chemical gradients/particles sizes in situ (AFM-SECM, EL), representing a targeted and significant innovation on multiple scientific fronts (electrochemical, computational, mineralogical, analytical). This multi-disciplinary collaboration between the EL, ITL, and GSL stands to establish ERDC as the premier public source of new knowledge regarding electro-mineralization toward numerous applications.This research seeks to understand the interplay between pH gradients and mineral formation using novel correlated chemical and physical probe techniques to provide a novel pathway to engineer minerals with tailored size and morphology. This technical objective will be approached according to the following workflow:Task 1: Substrate Fabrication and ModelingCustom fabricate and computationally model an electrode array tailored to generate pH gradients of different dimensions.Task 2: Empirical pH Gradient MeasurementEmpirically validate the properties of the pH gradient using chemically-modified electrodes.Task 3: Single Particle Electro-MineralizationInvestigate the influence of static and dynamic pH gradients on the growth and dissolution of single Ca(OH)2 mineral precipitates using correlated AFM-SECM.
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