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2023 MCSC Member Meetings Posters

This is a subset of posters from the Poster Session.

Sayandeep Biswas, Kariana Moreno Sader, and William H Green

Decarbonization of long-haul trucks, which are the backbone of global supply chains, is necessary to meet climate goals. Currently, battery electric and conventional hydrogen powertrains are not cost-competitive solutions against diesel. Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHCs) are a promising fuel option that benefits from synergies with existing retail fuel distribution infrastructure, providing a cost-effective way to transport hydrogen energy. LOHCs are now used to deliver hydrogen gas to refueling stations, where it is then compressed and used to fuel trucks. However, this approach incurs ∼50% energy loss from the endothermic dehydrogenation and compression of hydrogen. We discuss an alternative concept based on onboard hydrogen release to address these pain points. Initial analysis shows that the LOHC option, charged with blue hydrogen, achieves rough cost parity with diesel. The estimated well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions for this option are approximately one-third of diesel.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Tough transportation modes

Alexandre Jacquillat and Sean Lo

We study two emerging problems in logistics electrification: (1) vehicle routing operations with electric vehicles given the charging infrastructure, and (ii) the deployment of inter-state charging infrastructure to meet a logistic provider’s needs. We develop new algorithms that can scale to realistic problem instances. Our results provide managerial insights and practical guidelines for capital investments in charging infrastructure.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Tough transportation modes, Data & computing

Avni Singhal, Glen Junor, and Rafael Gomez-Bombarelli

We explore the space of π-conjugated nucleophiles and their chemisorption of CO2 using high-throughput, automated DFT simulations. We use cheminformatics techniques to combinatorially construct a wide variety of frameworks, and calculate their binding free energies with CO2. We use these calculations to understand the range of achievable binding energies for different families of compounds and the sensitivity of CO2 binding to peripheral structural changes.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Carbon capture & storage (CCS)

Kwangwook Ko, David J. Lundberg, Alayna M. Johnson, and Jeremiah A. Johnson*

The development of cleavable comonomers with suitable reactivity ratios paves the way for the introduction of backbone deconstructability into polymers. Guided by detailed computational analyses, we have found that structural modification of exisiting thionolactones enables markedly increased and tunable copolymerization reactivity with methacrylates. Through the formulation of novel synthetic routes and iterative optimizations of molecular structure, we have developed a cleavable comonomer that can copolymerize with methyl methacrylate (MMA) to achieve a nearly even distribution within the copolymer.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Circularity

Austin Saragih, Milena Janjevic, Matthias Winkenbach, and Yossi Sheffi

Given the rise of plastic pollution, there is a dire need of re-designing the reverse logistics network holistically, that considers the routing and collection facility components. To solve this, we propose a double continuum approximation approach to integrate and approximate collection facility count and routing cost in our reverse logistics network design (RLND). This approach allows us to rapidly solve the holistic RLND problem and determine the optimal strategy that generates large-scale cost and emission savings.

Related MCCSC Impact Areas: Tough transportation modes, Circularity

Gen Kamimura, Sierra R. Green, Katrin E. Daehn, and Antoine Allanore

We propose a new, cost-effective sulfidation technique for recycling aluminum alloy scrap that is currently landfilled. The sulfidation technique offers to color selectively different aluminum alloys based on their alloying elements, followed by the visual sorting.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Circularity

Gabrielle Godbille, Kristala Prather, and Bradley Olsen

Plastic waste is creating a growing environmental crisis. We are developing materials for a new double loop circularity paradigm whereby biomass-based polymers are designed to be mechanically recycled when they are collected but biodegraded when they are accidentally released, providing a high carbon-efficiency and environmentally robust solution to plastics sustainability. This new paradigm will be demonstrated on polyurethanes as interlayer adhesives in multilayer packaging, a large sustainability challenge due to its lack of biodegradation and incompatibility with most current and proposed recycling processes.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Circularity

Sydney Sroka and Akachukwu (AC) Obi

A summary poster describing the data integration challenges in resilience planning.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Value chain resilience, Data & computing

Hazel Mann, Inge Donovan, Jenna Schnitzler, Pitipat Wongsittikan, Keith Lee, and Caitlin Mueller

The majority of the carbon produced in the construction of a building results from its single-use concrete structure. Moving to reusable concrete blocks reduces the overall carbon emissions of construction and increases versatility of design. The innovative technology demands new tools for structural analysis of the blocks, gauging the environmental benefits, and creating transparency.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Circularity, Data & computing

Marc Foster, Desiree Plata, and Otto Cordero

New biodegradable polymers are one tool in our toolbox to reduce plastic waste. This research looks at the biodegradation of aromatic, aliphatic co-polyesters within marine microbial consortia and the implication towards environmental fate, novel bio-recycling strategies, and the current hurdles in understanding how these polymers fit into a circular economy.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Circularity, Nature-based solutions

Enrique Montas, Norhan Bayomi, and Marcela Angel

ECO-LENS is an AI-empowered platform for the automated identification of urban vegetation from remote sensing data and neighboring urban-regional wildlife habitats that assists in understanding urban biodiversity opportunities and its impacts on human wellbeing.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Nature-based solutions

Juliana Berglund-Brown, Akrisht Pandey, Fabio Duarte, Raquel Ganitsky, Randolph Kirchain, and Siqi Zheng 

Adopting Circular Economy practices in the construction industry can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, many barriers exist to adoption, and current perceptions of and willingness-to-pay for circularity have yet to be quantified. ​This study seeks to understand the various perceptions of circularity in the construction industry, characterize uncertainties and risks, and identify economic incentives and opportunities that could accelerate circular adoption via an industry survey of three stakeholder groups. 55 stakeholders were surveyed. Real estate developers are willing to pay an average premium of 9.56% for construction costs if there’s a minimum embodied carbon reduction of 52.88%. Design and Construction professionals would consider circular practices at an average design cost premium of 23.26%. Material suppliers would adopt circular practices if the market paid an average premium of 54.17% for reused materials. Reasons for adopting circular practices were primarily driven by client, design team, and net zero goals. The results of this survey begin to characterize the economic landscape of what is needed for a circular transition in the built environment.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Circularity, Climate finance

Anthony Wong, Noelle E. Selin, Sebastian D. Eastham, Florian Allroggen, Christine Mounaïm-Rousselle, and Yiqi Zhang 

We combine engine testing and ship track data to model the global air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions for ammonia ships from two different types of engines under 2020 regulation and two hypothetical policy scenarios. We find that while the tailpipe greenhouse gas emission from ammonia-fueled fleet is only 6% of the current fossil fuel fleet, the air quality outcome of switching to ammonia vary vastly (-79,100 to +595,000) mainly because unburnt ammonia emissions leads to PM2.5 formation. While being currently unregulated, unburnt ammonia emission has to be minimized to avoid adverse effects on air quality from ammonia-fueled ships.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Tough transportation modes


A. Deshmukh, R. Zhou, M. M. Swisher, N. G. Hadjiconstantinou, and J. H. Lienhard

Globally, separations processes account for a significant portion of industrial energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. We develop multiscale models to accelerate the development of energy efficient membrane-based separations.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Tough transportation modes

Evan Fricke, Cesar Terrer, and Charles Harvey

Most tropical trees rely on animal seed dispersers for regeneration. Analyzing their impact on natural forest regrowth, we find that seed disperser biodiversity strongly increases carbon accumulation rates across tropical forests. This identifies the restoration of animal biodiversity as a nature-based solution with large climate mitigation potential.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Nature-based solutions

Liying Qiu, Rahman Khorramfar, Saurabh Amin, and Michael F. Howland

As energy generation is decarbonized with increasing wind and solar capacity and energy consumption is increasingly electrified, power system operation and reliability depend on weather patterns that vary in both space and time. To ensure resource adequacy under extreme meteorological conditions, high-quality climate data is crucial for reliable and efficient design and operation of electricity generation. Our research focuses on understanding how different meteorological inputs impact the planning of a decarbonized power system when the spatial-temporal variabilities in meteorological conditions are considered in an optimization model designed for deciding the best location and sizing of renewables to achieve supply-demand balance.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Value chain resilience

Yuan Shi, Joann de Zegher, and Karen Zheng

We study how NGOs or companies may fund long-term sustainable practices by smallholder farmers at minimal cost, while farmers have limited resources. We examine and contrast two approaches to motivate smallholder farmers to adopt sustainable practices: carbon offsetting vs. insetting. Our results highlight when either approach may be more effective.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Nature-based solutions

Natalie Mamrol, Phoebe Weil, Bradley D. Olsen, and Gregory C. Rutledge

Bio-based polyesters synthesized from dimethyl furan-2,5-dicarboxylate (FDMC) are a promising PET replacement for textile applications while lowering emissions and pollution. The material properties of FDMC-based polyesters may be optimized by varying the specific chemistry and processing conditions. This project aims to screen an extensive composition space of furanoate copolymers and terpolymers and understand the contribution of chemistry (chain stiffness, heteroatoms, branching) and structure (composition, stereoregularity) on important fiber properties, including crystallization and biodegradability.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Circularity, Nature-based solutions, Data & computing

Victor Venturi, Iwnetim Abate, and Aristide Gumyusenge

MOFs have been identified as excellent candidates for CO2 electro-conversion owing to their redox activity, chemically tunable geometries, high porosity (reducing mass transport limitations), large surface area (high active site density) and tunable molecular affinity. The very large library of metal-ligand combinations offers, in principle, an infinite number of MOFs to choose from. With over 100,000 MOFs already synthesized to date, it is taxing and slow to search for all possible candidate materials from such a wide selection pool solely through experiments. Since CO2 electrocatalysts development requires optimization of both CO2 affinity and electronic structure,[3] we hypothesize that high-throughput and synthesis-aided screening of conductive MOFs is highly promising for yielding optimal candidates for simultaneous carbon capture and electro-conversion.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Carbon capture & storage (CCS), Data & computing

Inge Donovan, Jenna Schnitzler, Keith J Lee, and Pitipat Wongsittikan; UROP: Hazel Mann; PI: Caitlin Mueller

In this poster, we present updated work on pixel.frame, a new precast concrete structural system that is algorithmically designed to use less carbon upfront and be reused across multiple lifecycles. We achieve a high reuse potential for structural elements through building load demand analysis, a segmental externally post-tensioned design, and an integrated optimal assignment strategy.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Circularity

Akachukwu Obi, Fang-Yu Kuo, Sydney Sroka, Glen Junor, and Betar Gallant

Summary of MCSC research on CCUS. Updates on capture materials development and resilience efforts

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Value chain resilience, Carbon capture & storage (CCS)

Aneil Tripathy, Jaime Huidobro, Florian Berg, and Isabella Loaiza-Saa

At the MCSC, we have convened a wide range of researchers focused on ESG ratings, green bonds, and the future of work for sustainability. This poster highlights these researchers and their most recent publications.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Climate finance

Janelle Knox-Hayes, Carolina Bastidas, Miho Mazereeuw, Jean-Luc Pierite, Leslie Jonas, John Walkey, and Stephen Hart

This project builds ITEK convergence by weaving together the expert knowledge of different STEAM disciplines and recognizing and integrating the unique scientific value of Indigenous knowledge and ecological practices. The project aims to build a collaborative network between academic, community, and policy groups across Massachusetts to mainstream ITEK-STEAM knowledge in identifying critical regional socio-ecological systems that must be addressed to improve equitable sustainability and adaptation outcomes for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Nature-based solutions, Social dimensions

ZhiYi Liang, Amos Winter, and Bryony DuPont

Heavy-duty trucking is an essential economic and logistical backbone of the American and Global economy, yet, the clear path to decarbonize them remains uncertain. Currently, HDVs are hard to decarbonize using lithium drivetrain due to weight limitation of the batteries, while hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrain provides a promising alternative avenue. However, existing compressed hydrogen storage tanks used in fuel-cell trucks are bulky in shape and difficult to fit into the chassis of a vehicle. GEAR Lab is working on designing a new hydrogen storage architecture that can conform to the geometry of available space in the vehicle’s structural frame.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Tough transportation modes

Rafael Estrella, Lucy Young, Saurabh Nath, and Kripa Varanasi

The world has generated billions of tons of plastic waste since the mid 20th century, and each year, some 10 millions tons of plastic waste enter oceans globally, with an estimated economic cost of $8 billion per year. Biodegradable plastics are designed to counteract this excessive waste; however, common biodegradable plastics must be coated with environmentally toxic materials to obtain desirable mechanical and barrier properties. Fruits on the other hand offer inspiration for robust, completely biodegradable packaging. Here we show our fruit peel inspired wax-infused cellulose networks can be a promising sustainable packaging material. Our preliminary results show a reduced oxygen permeation of ~30% by leveraging wax films on the order of 10um thick.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Nature-based solutions

Poushali Maji and Brooke Bao

In this project, we aim to answer the questions: How do we evaluate circularity strategies across product sectors in terms of their multi-dimensional sustainability impact ? How can we prioritize strategies that provide the greatest value in terms of impact for a given level of effort or investment?

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Circularity, Social dimensions

Noman Bashir

Related MCSC Impact Area: Data & computing

Evan Coleman and Hans Theodore Gaensbauer

Roughly 20% of our annual greenhouse gas emissions come from within the physical boundaries of farms. Scalable carbon measurements are critical for optimizing sustainable farming practices, which show potential to sequester atmospheric carbon in soils. Standard combustion-based scientific techniques for measuring soil carbon have met cost barriers when deployed at scale. In this work, we are quantifying the limits of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) techniques for accurate in situ detection of directional shifts in the fraction of carbon covering large areas of managed land.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Nature-based solutions

Evan Coleman, Jenny U Moralejo, Lucy Kim, and Sujay Nair

Related MCSC Impact Area: Nature-based solutions

Danika MacDonell, Florian Allroggen, Evan Coleman, Katrin Daehn, and Micah Borrero

This poster surveys the range of exciting research activities going on within the MCSC’s “Tough Transportation Modes” pathway. This pathway tackles the tough-to-decarbonize transportation modes of shipping, aviation and long-haul trucking.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Tough transportation modes

Priyanka Raghavan, Natasha Faurschou, Wenhao Gao, Fang-Yu Kuo, and Glen Junor

Ylides, and specifically guanidines, show potential as carbon-capture materials in which the reaction atom and heterocycle are highly tunable. The synthesis of a large set of these molecules would enable larger-scale screening and testing of relevant properties such as CO2 transfer, viscosity, and solubility. As such, the use of lab automation will aid in the optimization and production of a diverse set of guanidines.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Carbon capture & storage (CCS)

Amanda Bischoff

Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas with 298 times the 100-year warming potential of carbon dioxide. The primary driver of human-caused nitrous oxide emissions is agriculture, in large part due to the use of nitrogen-containing fertilizer. Current methods for measuring nitrous oxide emissions from soil directly involve gas or soil sampling followed by sample analysis techniques that require specialized instrumentation and expertise. The ability to measure nitrous oxide emissions locally and cost-effectively would allow for decision-making on a farm-by-farm basis and facilitate the use of carbon credits to incentivize farmers to implement nitrous oxide emissions-reducing practices.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Nature-based solutions

Oscar Wu, Hao-Wei Pang, Xiaorui Dong, and William H. Green

Amine oxidative stability issue could incur substantial operating cost due to the large amount of amine needed for carbon capture. This talk demonstrates how can we leverage insights from quantum chemistry simulations and the predictive power of machine learning models to identify potential oxidative stability issues and accelerate the discovery of amines that have superior oxidative stability.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Carbon capture & storage (CCS), Data & computing

Xiaoyue Zhang, Mert Demirer, Jing Li, and Xiaoyue Zhang

We use US power plant data to study the impact of improving general productivity on a firm’s emission intensity and total emissions and the impact of reducing energy and emission intensity on a firm’s general productivity.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Data & computing, Social dimensions

Eliane Ballmer, Omar Tantawi, Glen De Vera and Desiree Plata 

We develop a new analytical method to quantify different size fractions of plastic particulates by combining sequential size filtration with susbequent total organic carbon (TOC) analysis. This method will then be applied to explore the hypothesis that microplastic formation is a critical step in the mobilization of nanoplastic and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from bulk plastic eventually facilitating mineralization.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Circularity

Lauren Bonilla, Manduhai Buyandelger, and Nathan Melenbrink

There is a widely acknowledged need for social science contributions to engineering solutions for climate and sustainability challenges. “Anthro-Engineering” brings together anthropology and engineering to co-ideate, co-research, and co-create solutions across disciplinary boundaries and through socially engaged research responsive to people and places impacted by complex sustainability problems. We highlight our work developing the field of Anthro-Engineering and putting this approach into practice through the project, “Anthro-Engineering Decarbonization at the Million-Person Scale,” focused on decarbonizing Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the coldest and most polluted capital city in the world.

Related MCSC Impact Areas: Nature-based solutions, Social dimensions

Akachukwu Obi, Fang-Yu Kuo, and Betar Gallant

Fossil fuels are still unavoidable energy sources in the near future, so an effective CO2 capture process is crucial for zero-emission society. This work explores the molecular design and optimization of guanidine-based materials for energy-efficient CO2 capture.

Related MCSC Impact Area: Carbon capture & storage (CCS)

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