(6co) Reproduce - Remediation and Production Using Computational and Electrochemical Approaches

Daramola, D. - Presenter, Ohio University

Over my career as a graduate student, research scientist, business development professional and lecturer, I have been involved in projects that are at the heart of global megatrends (urbanization and climate change) and how science and technology can ease the strain of these megatrends on resources (water availability, energy demand and food). My interest in a faculty position stems from the belief that this role is where solutions can be truly initiated through primary research and developed via collaborations with public and private entities. This interest is supported by experience in computational modeling, electrochemical conversion and polymer synthesis in both academic and industrial settings (see research interests for past, current and future work). This interest in finding solutions is balanced by providing adequate mentorship to the next generation of scientists through education, advising and professional development (see teaching interests for philosophy and proposed courses) and generating the excitement to work on these solutions. This is the foundation upon which my future lab – REPRODUCE – will be built.

Research Interests:

I have specific research experience in solid oxide fuel cells, electro-catalysis of nitrogenous compounds (ammonia and urea), phenolic resin synthesis, composite fabrication and nutrient recovery. These projects were executed using a variety of tools including density functional theory, flowsheet modeling and wet chemistry. As a future faculty member, my research will explore biomass remediation and phosphorous recovery. I will briefly highlight these topics below and look forward to a discussion at the conference. Agencies that would be interested in funding these potential projects include Department of Energy – Bioenergy Technologies Office, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy – Office of Science, and Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture. I have co-written proposals to these agencies previously and I am familiar with each agency's process.

Biomass Remediation: Plant biomass – a complex mix of components – is broadly sub-divided into cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin macromolecules. The lignin fraction is the most underutilized biomass component and this macromolecule is largely made up of aromatic and aliphatic sub-units linked together through direct bonds on the aromatic ring, carbon-oxygen-carbon linkages between aromatic rings and phenol-type linkages. Aromatic compounds are molecules/building blocks produced commercially for use in various applications including adhesives (phenol-formaldehyde resins), foams (polyurethanes) and propulsion (20% v/v of jet fuel) and these compounds are typically generated from crude oil. Lignin represents an opportunity for generating these aromatic compounds from a renewable source, but introduces several challenges including a heterogeneous molecular structure due to biomass source and separation techniques as well as highly oxygenated functional groups leading to low energy content and downstream transportation issues (pipeline corrosion). Projects I am interested in developing in this area include: (1) predictive modeling of heterogeneous electrocatalytic lignin depolymerization, (2) electrocatalyst validation and optimization via in situ experimental analyses and (3) macromolecular synthesis using lignin-based building blocks.

Phosphorous Recovery: Phosphorus is an essential mineral for animal nutrition, and plays key roles in development and maintenance of skeletal tissue, acid-base balance, energy utilization and other factors. Animals
deficient in this macronutrient can suffer from reduced economic performance and resistance to disease (e.g., reduced egg yield in hens, lower weight in cattle and hogs). This nutrient is also an essential element for plant growth and has to be provided to soil via application of inorganic fertilizer or manure. This practice improves soil quality by adding important nutrients, with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) being the largest users of land-applied manure as a management practice for animal waste. Although CAFOs are subject to state and federal regulations requiring approved Manure Management Plans, nutrient runoff is still a widespread issue. Notwithstanding this nutrient's critical importance, phosphorous (along with nitrogen) from animal manure is a primary contaminant of surface and groundwater leading to harmful algal blooms. Therefore, the reduction of P and N present in manure and the recovery of these nutrient species could serve as a viable approach to reducing environmental impact of runoff while also providing provide an additional source of revenue for farm operations. Typical methods for P recovery as a solid use chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and magnesium chloride, which raise the cost of the recovery process. An alternative approach would use electrochemical oxygen reduction to generate the basic environment required for P recovery as solid struvite. Projects I am interested in developing in this area include: (1) thermodynamics and kinetics of electrochemical P recovery via anode dissolution, (2) process design and optimization for farm-scale phosphorous recovery and (3) comparative techno-economic analyses of phosphorous recovery using wet chemistry and electrochemistry

Teaching Interests:

In the past, I have worked as a college tutor (over 8 years) and an MCAT instructor (1 year). I am currently teaching a "Principles of Engineering Materials" Course at Ohio University and have been the lecturer for this class since Fall 2017, with an average class size of 48 students and average instructor evaluations of 3.6 out of 4.

My teaching philosophy is centered on the idea that "Learning is initiated by listening, furthered by interrogation and crystallized by doing." This is an approach that I apply to mentoring, coursework and professional development. Although most of the learning process is based on the student’s actions, the teacher is the initiator and eventual catalyst for this learning process. Therefore, a teacher that is approachable, available and reachable coupled with a conducive environment that supports the different learning methods and backgrounds of each student are crucial elements of the process (see Diversity and Inclusion section below). This should clearly come across to the students in the classroom setting, small group sessions and/or in 1-on-1 conversations. Establishing a conducive environment at the beginning of the relationship (teacher-student, mentor-mentee or advisor-advisee) and maintaining this environment during the relationship allows the students to establish trust and encourages their participation in the learning process. At that point, I can then begin to challenge them in my role as teacher/mentor/advisor to take further responsibility in the questioning and doing phase of the learning process.

In the future, I would be interested in teaching classes that my training (as a chemical engineer and chemist) has prepared me for including: Mass and Energy Balances, Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical Reaction Engineering, Thermodynamics, Kinetics, Transport Phenomena, Engineering Mathematics, General Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry and General Physics. In addition, I look forward to creating elective courses based on my research interests including Computational Materials Modeling, Molecular Thermodynamics, Microkinetics, Electrochemical Engineering Principles etc. In creating these elective courses, I will focus on unique course objectives so as not duplicate other coursework’s efforts.

Diversity and Inclusion (Brief Comment):

As a potential faculty member and a former international student, I tend to draw on my experience when I think about diversity and inclusion and the impact of my new environment on me (adapting) as well as my impact on that new environment (influencing). The history of physical sciences has shown that under-representation in the field is not always due to a lack of capable participants, but a leaky pipeline that does not often prioritize a combination of recruitment, integration and retention. Ensuring diversity and inclusion in STEM begins with creating multiple entry-points into the field (recruitment/engagement). Some of the avenues to accomplish this are through outreach at national conferences as well as engagement with junior chapters of minority profesional organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers. The necessary next step after recruitment is furnishing individuals with the tools required to succeed in the new environment (integration). This could be a combination of creating avenues for student engagement with faculty (outside of lecture hours) and professional development opportunities offering training in soft-skills. Finally, an often-forgotten element of inclusive excellence is the “art of the follow-up” to ensure progress (retention). This is perhaps the most difficult aspect due to the dynamics of career decisions - students changing majors, faculty members changing schools etc. My role will be to foster an environment that prioritizes this inclusive excellence via the 3 elements I mentioned combined with my personal experiences to strengthen and grow the REPRODUCE lab.


  1. Estejab, D.A. Daramola and G.G. Botte, Water Research 77, pp I33-I45 (2015). DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2015.03.013
  2. G.G. Botte, D.A. Daramola and M. Muthuvel, “9.14 Preparative Electrochemistry for Organic Synthesis” In Comprehensive Organic Synthesis II (Second Edition), G.A., Molander; P. Knochel, Eds., Elsevier: Amsterdam, 351 – 389 (2014). DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-08-097742-3.00940-X
  3. D.A. Daramola and G.G. Botte, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 402, pp 204-214 (2013). DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2013.03.067
  4. D.A. Daramola and G.G. Botte, Computational and Theoretical Chemistry 989, pp 7 – 17 (2012). DOI: 10.1016/j.comptc.2012.02.032
  5. D.A. Daramola, D. Singh and G.G. Botte, Journal of Physical Chemistry A 114, pp 11513 – 11521 (2010). DOI: 10.1021/jp105159t
  6. D.A. Daramola, M. Muthuvel and G.G. Botte, Journal of Physical Chemistry B 114, pp 9323 – 9329 (2010). DOI: 10.1021/jp9077135

Pending Publications

  1. E. Grossman, D.A. Daramola and G.G. Botte, Comparing B3LYP and B97 dispersion-corrected functionals for Studying Adsorption and Vibrational Spectra in Nitrogen Reduction.
  2. Y. Al Majali, C. T. Chirume, D.A. Daramola, K.S. Kappagantula and J.P. Trembly, Coal Filler Based Thermoplastic Composites as Construction Materials: A New Sustainable End-Use Application.