Judy Cha receives NSF award to explore renewable hydrogen

Judy Cha, faculty member at Yale’s Energy Sciences Institute (ESI), has received a Faculty Early Career Development Program – CAREER – Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her work to split water into hydrogen as a potential renewable fuel.

Cha, the Carol and Douglas Melamed Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, will receive a total of $580,000 over five years to support the project.

Her research uses electrochemical catalysis to generate hydrogen from water, offering a sustainable alternative to conventional processes that generate hydrogen from natural gas or petroleum.

Hydrogen is an abundant element, but turning it into a practical renewable fuel has long been a challenge for researchers. Producing it through the process of water-splitting has shown promise, but it requires finding a way to do so efficiently and inexpensively. One obstacle to this has been finding the right catalyst for the water-splitting process.

In recent years, a class of low-cost chemical materials, known as transition metal dichalcogenides, have been identified as promising materials for water-based hydrogen production to power fuel cells and as a raw material for the manufacture of chemicals.

“I am honored to receive this NSF award, and excited to explore fundamental aspects of these new materials and their effectiveness for hydrogen generation using a unique reactor system,” said Cha, who was the first Yale faculty member appointed to the Energy Sciences Institute at Yale’s West Campus.

CAREER awards are the Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research, education and the integration of education and research within their organizations.

“This award from the NSF will enable Dr. Cha to pave the way to a more sustainable energy and chemicals future,” said Gary Brudvig, the Benjamin Silliman Professor of Chemistry and Director of the ESI. “These projects will provide the ground work for long-term competitiveness of the U.S. in the fuels and chemical manufacturing sectors.”

More information about the project can be found at https://www.eng.yale.edu/cha/

Contact: Jon.Atherton@yale.edu