Abstract: The widespread adoption of renewable energy demands reliable energy storage solutions, which are currently held back by issues related to performance, cost, and/or ease of use. To tackle these issues, researchers have explored two-dimensional (2D) materials as cost-effective, high-performance electrocatalysts and electrode materials. Among these 2D materials, MXenes, a distinct category of carbides and nitrides, have gained prominence owing to their exceptional tunability, conductivity, and high surface area-to-volume ratio. Nitride MXenes (MNenes), in particular, excel in these properties compared to their carbide counterparts, but their synthesis method remains unclear. In this presentation, I will introduce the oxygen-assisted molten salt fluoride etching synthesis method developed in our laboratory, enabling the production of phase-pure MNene materials. Furthermore, I will delve into the enhanced performance of these MNenes for the nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR), carbon dioxide reduction reaction (CO2RR), hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), and applications pertaining to energy storage. Additionally, I will provide real-time mechanistic insights into the underlying mechanisms of each system. Moreover, I will illustrate how integrating this research with national and international outreach initiatives has significantly enriched diversity within the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. I will specifically discuss the summer research program initiated for undergraduate students from historically black colleges and universities, as well as the U.S-Africa collaborations forged through the National Academy of Science fellowship. I will wrap up by discussing some future directions and opportunities for MNenes in catalysis and energy storage, emphasizing their potential impact on advancing these fields.
Short Bio: Dr. Abdoulaye Djire is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University with an additional affiliation in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and a member of the Texas PowerHouse Energy Policy Advisory Council. Prior to joining Texas A&M, Dr. Djire held positions as a Staff Scientist and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the Chemistry and Nanoscience Center. He earned his Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Dr. Djire has over 35 published research articles in esteemed journals and had numerous invited talks at prestigious institutions and international conferences. At Texas A&M University, Dr. Djire serves as the Principal Investigator of the Discovery Journey to Innovative Renewable Energy (DJIRE) laboratory and program. His team focuses on finding sustainable solutions to combat climate change and promoting global access to clean energy through the exploration of innovative materials and public education initiatives. Dr. Djire has received numerous awards and recognitions including the 2019 DuPont GOLD Award and the 2023 U.S.-Africa Frontiers Fellowship.