Dr. H. Christopher Frey, Glenn E. Futrell Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE), and Dr. Fanxing Li, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE), have been named the 2020 Alcoa Foundation Awards recipients.
Frey received the Alcoa Foundation Distinguished Engineering Research Award, made to a senior faculty member for research achievements over a period of at least five years at NC State. Li was awarded the Alcoa Foundation Engineering Research Achievement Award, which recognizes young faculty members who have accomplished outstanding research achievements during the preceding three years.
Frey has developed a nationally and internationally recognized program of research in air pollution control, air quality, uncertainty analysis and human exposure to air pollutants. In the past five years, Frey’s seminal contributions have been focused on measurement and modeling of the activity, energy use, and emissions of on-road and non-road vehicles, and modeling of human exposure to air pollution and associated risk. His methods rely on portable instruments for field measurements that render the results from his research to be practical and impactful and therefore well received by stakeholders in the academic and professional communities. He has also provided significant contributions to the literature on quantification of human exposure to air pollutants produced by vehicles, particularly fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5).
As an early-career researcher, Li has demonstrated strong leadership with exceptional creativity in the fields of chemical reaction engineering and particle technology. Li’s unique expertise in both materials and process design has led to a novel hybrid solar-redox scheme for solar fuel and hydrogen generation. Using a specially tailored redox catalyst, his research group has achieved fuel conversion and water-splitting efficiencies more than triple those of the state of the art. In addition, the process produces hydrogen with near-zero, life-cycle CO2 emissions. His research team is pushing boundaries at the forefront of fundamentals and applications of redox-active transition metal oxides.
The Alcoa awards are traditionally awarded during the College of Engineering’s annual spring faculty meeting. That meeting has been postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak that has closed campus. Frey and Li will receive their awards at a later date.