Casey O'Brien

Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Friday, May 5
10:45-11:15 a.m.

“Carbon Capture, Storage, and Utilization: Challenges and Opportunities”


The emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) has increased steadily since the Industrial Revolution, primarily from the excessive extraction and use of fossil fuels, increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere from the pre-industrial value of ~280 ppm to the current value of ~420 ppm. Consequently, the global surface temperature has increased by at least 1.1 °C compared to pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement set a goal to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 °C and preferably below 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Utilizing renewable energy sources is probably the best route to solving the GHG emissions problem in the long term. However, achieving 100% renewable energy is not feasible in the near term and fossil fuels will continue to be a significant energy carrier for decades. Limiting global warming to less than 2 °C will therefore require the development of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies that remove tens of gigatons of CO2 per year from the air and either utilize it or store it permanently. In this talk, I will discuss the challenges and opportunities in developing and deploying CCUS technologies at gigaton-per-year scales.


Prof. Casey O'Brien joined the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2017. After receiving his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, he worked with the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and with the Chemical Physics Department of the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

His research interests focus on making the chemical and petrochemical industries more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly by developing catalytic materials that promote desirable reaction pathways and block reaction pathways that lead to environmentally harmful byproducts. He also develops membrane materials that reduce the energy input required for gas separation and purification and uses operando spectroscopic techniques to develop catalytic and membrane materials and to characterize their structure under realistic conditions while simultaneously evaluating their performance.

Relevant Energy Publications
  1. Easa, Justin, Renxi Jin, and Casey P. O'Brien. "Evolution of surface and bulk carbon species derived from propylene and their influence on the interaction of hydrogen with palladium." Journal of Membrane Science 596 (2020): 117738.
  2. Jin, Renxi, Justin Easa, Dat T. Tran, and Casey P. O'Brien. "Ru-Promoted CO 2 activation for oxidative dehydrogenation of propane over chromium oxide catalyst." Catalysis Science & Technology 10, no. 6 (2020): 1769-1777.
  3. O’Brien, Casey P., and Ivan C. Lee. "The interaction of CO with PdCu hydrogen separation membranes: An operando infrared spectroscopy study." Catalysis Today 336 (2019): 216-222.
  4. Kareem, Haval, Shiyao Shan, Fang Lin, Jing Li, Zhipeng Wu, Binay Prasai, Casey P. O'Brien et al. "Evolution of surface catalytic sites on thermochemically-tuned gold–palladium nanoalloys." Nanoscale 10, no. 8 (2018): 3849-3862.
  5. Kareem, Haval, Shiyao Shan, Zhi-Peng Wu, Leslie Velasco, Kelli Moseman, Casey P. O'Brien, Dat T. Tran et al. "Catalytic oxidation of propane over palladium alloyed with gold: an assessment of the chemical and intermediate species." Catalysis Science & Technology 8, no. 23 (2018): 6228-6240.

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