Research Interests


The Haan Research Lab currently has over a dozen undergraduate and graduate students working on 4 active project teams:

CO2 Team     Fuel Cell Team

Catalyst Team     Paper Team

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CO2 Team

The CO2 Team has developed an electrochemical storage device that converts carbon dioxide to sodium formate, stores the sodium formate in liquid form, and then uses a formate fuel cell to produce energy.  Liquid storage (like battery or capacitor storage) helps solve a key problem with renewable energy: solar, wind, and hydro power are intermittent.  Presently, the Team is studying the reaction of CO2 to formate in aqueous media.

This work is done in collaboration with Dr. Salvador Mayoral (CSUF Mechanical Engineering), Dr. Michael Groves (CSUF Chemistry), and Dr. Louis Scudiero (Washington State University Chemistry)

Current team members:

Rebecca Clark (team leader), John Gomez, Stephanie Xiong, and Cristian Franco.

Link to Recent Publication:

An Integrated Device to Convert Carbon Dioxide to Energy




Fuel Cell Team

The development in 2008 of the first practical alkaline fuel cell membrane opened up the opportunity for investigators to study the performance of renewable fuels that were inefficient in previous fuel cell designs (Bianchini et al.).  While others focused on ethanol, our lab initially focused on sodium and potassium formate salts as fuels.  We designed and optimized a direct formate fuel cell (Bartrom et al.), demonstrating it was the most efficient alkaline direct liquid fuel cell.  We improved (Bartrom et al.) upon the initial results, and others (e.g., Li et al.) have confirmed the superiority of formate using other fuel cell configurations. Presently, the Team is examining ascorbate as a fuel for an alkaline direct liquid fuel cell.

Current team members:

Isabel Chino (team leader), Kimberly Hendrix, and Abtin Keramati

Link to Recent Publication:

A Direct Ascorbate Fuel Cell with an Anion Exchange Membrane



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Catalyst Team

A grand challenge of fuel cell research is the reduction in catalyst cost, and the development of the alkaline membrane opened up the opportunity to study a broader range of low cost, transition metal catalysts that quickly corrode in an acidic environment.  We are using Pd-based catalysts to efficiently oxidize renewable alcohols (e.g., ethanol and propanol) and renewable polyalcohols (e.g., ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and glycerol).  We have found significant improvements to oxidation rates of these alcohols on Pd mixed with first-row transition metals (e.g., Cu and Ni) and Pd mixed with heavy metals (e.g., Sn, Sb, Pb).  For example, the oxidation rate of glycerol is 14 times faster on Pd63Cu37/C than on Pd/C after 3 hours of oxidation.

This work is done in collaboration with Dr. Su Ha (Washington State University Chemical Engineering), Dr. Louis Scudiero (WSU Chemistry), Dr. Allyson Fry-Petit (CSUF Chemistry), and Dr. Michael Groves (CSUF Chemistry).

Current team members:

John Gomez, Catherine Nguyen, and Lorenzo Vega.

Links to Recent Publications:

Improved Electrochemical Oxidation of Polyalcohols in Alkaline Media on Palladium-Nickel Catalysts

Electrochemical Oxidation of Polyalcohols in Alkaline Media on Palladium Catalysts Promoted by the Addition of Copper



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Paper Team

The Paper Team is working to apply fuel cell and battery technology to paper microfluidic devices that have recently increased in popularity to perform inexpensive and portable chemical sensing.  The Team demonstrated the first paper microfluidic formate fuel cell (Copenhaver et al.) shortly after the first publication of any paper fuel cell by Esquivel et al.  Due to the success and optimization of the paper formate fuel cell, the Team moved forward to integrate galvanic cell reactions with fuel cell reactions to produce the first paper-based galvanic cell designed on a single strip of paper (Purohit et al.), a much simpler version of previous work on complex layers of paper (e.g., Koo et al.).

This work is done in collaboration with Dr. Frank Gomez (CSU Los Angeles Chemistry).

Current team members:

Isabel Chino (team leader), Vy Ho, Michelle Tran.

Links to Recent Publications:

A Paper Microfluidic Fuel Cell Powered by Urea

A Microfluidic Galvanic Cell on a Single Layer of Paper