Heather BUCKLEY, PhD in Green and Inorganic Chemistry (Canada)

Heather Buckley, Copyright: FONA

Heather holds a PhD in Green and Inorganic Chemistry and is currently an ITRI Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, USA.

Current position: ITRI Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA

Research focus: Safe drinking water through energy-efficient fluoride removal

Her research focuses on providing safe drinking water to low-income communities through removal of fluoride and other contaminants. In her PhD studies, she worked to replace the platinum component of fuel cells, exploring an important dimension in making renewable energy storage more sustainable.

For her achievements, Heather was awarded a Green Talent in 2014. The jury appreciated her commitment to Green Chemistry as a relatively new field of study with vast potential for radical new thinking. The award offered her the opportunity to learn Process Engineering at the Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, which has benefited her capacity for systems thinking about how chemical synthesis scales beyond the bench.

2016 ITRI Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
2014 American Chemical Society Hancock Memorial Award for outstanding research furthering the goals of green chemistry
2009-2012 International Fulbright Science and Technology Fellowship, University of California Berkeley


CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2014):

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY, USA

Research focus: A sustainable, Earth-abundant alternative to platinum - tethered molecular electrocatalysts for PEM Fuel Cells

By working to replace the platinum component of fuel cells and battery devices, Heather Buckley is exploring an important dimension in making renewable energy storage more sustainable.

With a background in Inorganic Chemistry, which she studied in Canada, Heather received scholarships to the USA and Germany for her undergraduate and MSc degrees. As a recent PhD graduate in Green and Inorganic Chemistry at the University of California Berkeley, she helps lead a team of researchers looking for alternatives to platinum for use in fuel cell and battery devices. These devices are particularly important for the future of sustainable energy as they allow energy from intermittent sources, such as wind turbines or solar panels, to be stored in chemical bonds before being released. However, the use of platinum in the catalysts of such fuel cells poses an environmental problem: there is a limited supply world-wide and it remains in the environment after the end of its useful life.

Heather and her team are exploring the use of “biomimetic molecular complexes” made from Earth-abundant metals with lower toxicity such as iron, copper and cobalt instead of the traditional platinum catalyst. They are working at the interface of solution and surface physical chemistry, which Heather describes as one of the key advantages of her research: “It is the fusion of ideas and perspectives from these two established fields of chemistry that has allowed me to create a novel and potentially useful system.” Whilst research is still ongoing, Heather is also keen to explore the potential commercial dimension of the alternative catalysts and their future commercial viability.

The jury appreciated Heather’s commitment to Green Chemistry as a relatively new field of study with vast potential for radical new thinking. They also believe her experience as an experimental scientist and team leader will help her take full advantage of opportunities for scientific exchange during the extended study visit to Germany.