Dr Jessica Allen

Dr Jessica Allen

Lecturer

School of Engineering

Career Summary

Biography

Dr. Jessica Allen has a multidisciplinary background spanning both chemical engineering and chemistry. She has worked in both industry and academia on projects spanning fundamental research to commercial design. Dr Allen completed her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at the University of Newcastle before taking up a PhD in chemistry with the CSIRO Energy Centre, Newcastle. After completing her PhD, based in fundamental electrochemistry, Dr Allen accepted an industry position as a project/research engineer with start-up technology company Pacific Pyrolysis. In her time with the company she also completed a secondment with Ignite Energy Resources, based on the same site, as an operations engineer. Dr Allen returned to academia in 2013, taking up a post-doctoral position with the University of Newcastle in the Applied Electrochemistry group, part of the Faculty of Science and IT. Dr Allen was then appointed in 2017 as a lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of Newcastle, and as a principal researcher for the Priority Research Centre for Frontier Energy Technologies and Utilisation.

Research Expertise

Dr Allen has worked and published extensively in:

  • Low emission coal (direct carbon fuel cell)
  • Renewable energy systems for biomass and solar thermal (pyrolysis, molten carbonates)
  • Energy storage (Electrochemical: including fuel cells, batteries and cupercapacitors, and  thermochemical: including the chemical storage of energy as hydrogen through solar driven thermochemical water splitting)

Energy storage, particularly electrochemical energy storage, is Dr Allens’ particular specialty area. She has worked and published extensively in electrolyser and fuel cell technologies as well as collaboratively on the development and fabrication of supercapacitor and battery materials.

Dr Allen’s post-doctoral work focused on the direct carbon fuel cell (DCFC), which is a high temperature fuel cell with the potential to halve carbon emissions and eliminate particulates related to traditional coal combustion, making the technology able to be located close to urban areas. Her area of study encompasses electrochemical assessment of the carbon electrooxidation reaction, molten salt properties, as well as engineering design of high temperature fuel cells.

She has also been directly involved in renewable energy systems for biomass as a professional engineer through her work with Pacific Pyrolysis and Ignite Energy Resources, as well as collaborative academic work carried out at the University of Newcastle. As a research engineer working for Pacific Pyrolysis, Dr Allen operated an innovative slow pyrolysis, greenwaste-to-biochar pilot plant and carried out extensive mass and energy balance investigations including the development of a model able to predict energy generation expected for a specific feedstock. During her time with Ignite Energy Resources, Dr Allen was involved in operating a first-of-a-kind hydrothermal reactor. This plant successfully demonstrated the large-scale transformation of wood flour to bio-oil using elevated temperature and pressure.

Dr Allen also has experience in solar thermal energy since her PhD work referred to the hybrid sulfur cycle, a thermo-electrochemical cycle for the production of hydrogen from water using solar energy inputs. She has several highly cited relevant research papers in this area as the cycle and its applications are of increasing research interest globally. More recently, Dr Allen is also interested in molten alkali-metal carbonate salts, which have properties favourable for application in concentrating solar power (CSP) technology as well as interesting electrochemical properties.

Qualifications

  • PhD (Chemistry), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Eng ) (Honours), University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • biomass
  • carbon dioxide utilisation
  • electrochemistry
  • energy storage
  • fuel cells
  • low emission coal
  • solar thermal

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
090499 Chemical Engineering not elsewhere classified 40
030604 Electrochemistry 40
091499 Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy not elsewhere classified 20

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Engineering
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2016 - 31/12/2016 Lecturer (Part-time)

Assistant Course Coordinator and Head Demonstrator for CHEM1010 and CHEM1020

Faculty of Science and Information Technology, University of Newcastle
Australia
15/07/2013 - 31/12/2015 Post-Doctoral Scientist The University of Newcastle - Faculty of Science and IT
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
2/05/2011 - 28/06/2013 Project/Research Engineer

Includes a 6 month secondment at Ignite Energy Resources (https://www.igniteer.com/) 

Pacific Pyrolysis
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (14 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Latham KG, Simone M, Dose WM, Allen JA, Donne SW, 'Synchrotron based NEXAFS study on nitrogen doped hydrothermal carbon: Insights into surface functionalities and formation mechanisms', CARBON, 114 566-578 (2017)
DOI 10.1016/j.carbon.2016.12.057
Co-authors Michela Simone, Scott Donne
2015 Hughes MA, Allen JA, Donne SW, 'Carbonate Reduction and the Properties and Applications of Carbon Formed Through Electrochemical Deposition in Molten Carbonates: A Review', Electrochimica Acta, (2015) [C1]

The electrochemical conversion of CO<inf>2</inf> to carbon through the reductive electrolysis of molten carbonate-containing salts has been studied by a range of groups. These gro... [more]

The electrochemical conversion of CO2 to carbon through the reductive electrolysis of molten carbonate-containing salts has been studied by a range of groups. These groups have examined the yields, mechanisms of deposition and physical characteristics of carbon synthesized through electrolysis using a variety of electrolytes, substrates, temperatures, current densities and deposition potentials. The findings of these research groups have been compiled and compared, with particular significance being placed on findings relating to the influence of variables on the physical properties of carbon obtained in this manner. Research on potential applications of carbon derived from the electrolysis of molten carbonate-containing salts has been presented and the energetics of these carbons have been discussed. The possibility of using this form of carbon synthesis as a manner of permanent waste CO2 sequestration has been considered.

DOI 10.1016/j.electacta.2015.07.134
Co-authors Scott Donne
2015 Allen JA, White J, Glenn M, Donne SW, 'Molten Carbonate Composition Effects on Carbon Electro-Oxidation at a Solid Anode Interface', JOURNAL OF THE ELECTROCHEMICAL SOCIETY, 162 F76-F83 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1149/2.0321501jes
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2
Co-authors Scott Donne
2015 Allen JA, Glenn M, Donne SW, 'The effect of coal type and pyrolysis temperature on the electrochemical activity of coal at a solid carbon anode in molten carbonate media', Journal of Power Sources, 279 384-393 (2015) [C1]

© 2015 Elsevier B.V.A systematic assessment of the electrochemical activity of two different parent coal types, pyrolysed at temperatures between 500 and 900 °C higher heating t... [more]

© 2015 Elsevier B.V.A systematic assessment of the electrochemical activity of two different parent coal types, pyrolysed at temperatures between 500 and 900 °C higher heating temperature (HHT), is presented in this work. Analysis shows that certain coal chars are catalytically activated in molten carbonate media at 600 °C, however activity does not appear to follow trends established for ashless carbon sources. It is seen here that it is not possible to predict activity based solely on electrical resistance, surface functionalization, or the BET surface area of pyrolysed coals. Instead, it is suggested that coal ash type, abundance and distribution plays a pivotal role in activating the coal char to allow fast electrochemical oxidation through a catalytically enhanced pathway. Activation from ash influence is discussed to result from wetting of the molten carbonate media with the carbon surface (change in polarity of electrode surface), through ash mediated oxide adsorption and transfer to carbon particles, or possibly through another catalytic pathway not yet able to be predicted from current results.

DOI 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2014.12.121
Citations Scopus - 6Web of Science - 6
Co-authors Scott Donne
2015 Glenn MJ, Allen JA, Donne SW, 'Thermal Investigation of a Doped Alkali-Metal Carbonate Ternary Eutectic for Direct Carbon Fuel Cell Applications', Energy and Fuels, 29 5423-5433 (2015) [C1]

© 2015 American Chemical Society.The carbonate eutectic mixture of Li<inf>2</inf>CO<inf>3</inf>, K<inf>2</inf>CO<inf>3</inf>, and Na<inf>2</inf>CO<inf>3</inf> is commonly used as... [more]

© 2015 American Chemical Society.The carbonate eutectic mixture of Li2CO3, K2CO3, and Na2CO3 is commonly used as an electrolyte within the direct carbon fuel cell. Here, seven different minerals common to the ash content of Australian bituminous coals (anatase TiO2, SiO2, CaCO3, CaSO4, Fe2O3, FeS, and kaolin) were used to modify the ternary carbonate eutectic to explore the thermodynamics of the carbonate melting process. Thermal effects were examined using differential thermal analysis, where it has been shown that dissolution of the contaminant leads to liquid-phase disruption, the extent of which varies with dopant type. Furthermore, modeling of the melting process carried out using different heating rates allowed determination of the activation energy for melting in the presence of the various contaminants, where it was shown that the contaminants can dramatically affect the activation energy and, subsequently, the kinetics of the melting process.

DOI 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.5b01027
Co-authors Scott Donne
2015 Joseph S, Husson O, Graber ER, Van Zwieten L, Taherymoosavi S, Thomas T, et al., 'The electrochemical properties of biochars and how they affect soil redox properties and processes', Agronomy, 5 322-340 (2015) [C1]

© 2015 by the authors.Biochars are complex heterogeneous materials that consist of mineral phases, amorphous C, graphitic C, and labile organic molecules, many of which can be ei... [more]

© 2015 by the authors.Biochars are complex heterogeneous materials that consist of mineral phases, amorphous C, graphitic C, and labile organic molecules, many of which can be either electron donors or acceptors when placed in soil. Biochar is a reductant, but its electricaland electrochemical properties are a function of both the temperature of production and the concentration and composition of the various redox active mineral and organic phases present. When biochars are added to soils, they interact with plant roots and root hairs, micro-organisms, soil organic matter, proteins and the nutrient-rich water to form complex organo-mineral-biochar complexes Redox reactions can play an important role in the development of these complexes, and can also result in significant changes in the original C matrix. This paper reviews the redox processes that take place in soil and how they may be affected by the addition of biochar. It reviews the available literature on the redox properties of different biochars. It also reviews how biochar redox properties have been measured and presents new methods and data for determining redox properties of fresh biochars and for biochar/soil systems.

DOI 10.3390/agronomy5030322
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 8
Co-authors Scott Donne
2014 Allen JA, Tulloch J, Wibberley L, Donne SW, 'Kinetic analysis of the anodic carbon oxidation mechanism in a molten carbonate medium', Electrochimica Acta, 129 389-395 (2014) [C1]

The oxidation mechanism for carbon in a carbonate melt was modelled using an electrochemical kinetic approach. Through the Butler-Volmer equation for electrode kinetics, a series ... [more]

The oxidation mechanism for carbon in a carbonate melt was modelled using an electrochemical kinetic approach. Through the Butler-Volmer equation for electrode kinetics, a series of expressions was derived assuming each step of the proposed carbon oxidation mechanism is in turn the rate determining step (RDS). Through the derived expressions the transfer coefficient and Tafel slope were calculated for each possible RDS of the proposed mechanism and these were compared with real data collected on carbon based electrodes including graphite and coal. It was established that the RDS of the electrochemical oxidation process is dependent on both the carbon type and the potential region of oxidation. The simplified kinetic analysis suggested that the RDS in the main oxidation region is likely to be the first or second electron transfer on a graphite electrode surface, which occurs following initial adsorption of an oxygen anion to an active carbon site. This is contrary to previous suggestions that adsorption of the second anion to the carbon surface will be rate determining. It was further shown that use of a coal based carbon introduces a change in mechanism with an additional reaction region where a different mechanism is proposed to be operating. ©2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

DOI 10.1016/j.electacta.2014.02.149
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 7
Co-authors Scott Donne
2014 Allen JA, Rowe G, Hinkley JT, Donne SW, 'Electrochemical aspects of the Hybrid Sulfur Cycle for large scale hydrogen production', International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, (2014) [C1]

The Hybrid Sulfur Cycle is a thermo-electrochemical process designed for the large scale production of hydrogen. The two-step process is essentially based on water splitting using... [more]

The Hybrid Sulfur Cycle is a thermo-electrochemical process designed for the large scale production of hydrogen. The two-step process is essentially based on water splitting using various sulfur species as intermediates. The limiting step in the overall process is the electrochemical oxidation of sulfur dioxide to form sulphuric acid, which suffers from a substantial (~0.4V) anodic overpotential. Here we report on various aspects of sulfur dioxide oxidation in an acidic media including the effects of electrode preconditioning, the electrode substrate and electrolyte effects, the combination of which has allowed development of a sulfur dioxide oxidation mechanism which is described and discussed. Additionally, the electrochemical oxidation of sulfur dioxide has been shown to be an oscillating reaction, which is also a novel finding. © 2014 Hydrogen Energy Publications, LLC.

DOI 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2014.05.112
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 7
Co-authors Scott Donne
2014 Tulloch J, Allen J, Wibberley L, Donne S, 'Influence of selected coal contaminants on graphitic carbon electro-oxidation for application to the direct carbon fuel cell', JOURNAL OF POWER SOURCES, 260 140-149 (2014) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2014.03.026
Citations Scopus - 16Web of Science - 14
Co-authors Scott Donne
2012 Allen JA, Hinkley JT, Donne SW, 'Electrochemical oxidation of aqueous sulfur dioxide II: Comparative studies on platinum and gold electrodes', Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 159 F585-F593 (2012) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 6Web of Science - 6
Co-authors Scott Donne
2011 Allen JA, Hinkley JT, Donne SW, 'Observed electrochemical oscillations during the oxidation of aqueous sulfur dioxide on a sulfur modified platinum electrode', Electrochimica Acta, 56 4224-4230 (2011) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.electacta.2011.01.092
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6
Co-authors Scott Donne
2011 Hinkley JT, O¿Brien JA, Fell CJ, Lindquist S, 'Prospects for solar only operation of the hybrid sulphur cycle for hydrogen production', International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 36 11596-11603 (2011) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2011.06.048
Citations Scopus - 8Web of Science - 4
2010 Allen JA, Hinkley JT, Donne SW, 'The electrochemical oxidation of aqueous sulfur dioxide: I. Experimental parameter influences on electrode behavior', Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 157 F111-F115 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.1149/1.3458860
Citations Scopus - 8Web of Science - 6
Co-authors Scott Donne
2010 Allen JA, Hinkley JT, Donne SW, Lindquist S-E, 'The electrochemical oxidation of aqueous sulfur dioxide: A critical review of work with respect to the hybrid sulfur cycle', Electrochimica Acta, 55 573-591 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.electacta.2009.09.067
Citations Scopus - 37Web of Science - 30
Co-authors Scott Donne
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current2

Total current UON EFTSL

PhD0.4

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2016 PhD The Electrolytic Reduction of Carbonates for the Consumption of Waste CO2 and the Formation of New Energy Storage Materials
PhD (Chemistry), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2012 PhD Development and Optimization of the Direct Carbon Fuel Cell
PhD (Chemistry), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
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Dr Jessica Allen

Position

Lecturer
School of Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment

Contact Details

Email j.allen@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 40 339359

Office

Room NIER A239
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