Georgia Tech Water Lab

WAter, Thermal, and Electrochemical Engineering Research Lab


Research Vision

Our lab investigates sustainable catalysis and separations processes. We aim to develop new materials and technologies, which address challenges at the forefront with the food-energy-water nexus.

sun energy with plug connection ready to

Distributed Ammonia

How will the world produce more food from less land while minimizing waste and energy? With increasing world population, biofuel production, protein rich diets, and decreasing arable land, agricultural productivity has come to the forefront in discussions regarding global hunger.  To address world hunger, current estimates suggest that the production of food over the next 40 years will need to equal the production of food over last 8000 years. 

Improving agricultural yields requires small-scale technologies, which are capable of controlling the growing environment and monitoring the health of an individual plant.

We are investigating sustainable catalytic (photo and electrochemical) approaches to convert nitrogen into ammonia using only air, water, and solar energy. We are also using machine learning and physics based models to assess the environmental cost of centralized and distributed ammonia (fertilizer) production.

Image by Ivan Bandura

Electrocatalysis for Water and Energy

With electricity prices decreasing, there is a growing interest to develop new ways to convert this cheap and carbon free electricity into valuable products. Electrocatalysis provides a route to use electricity to perform catalytic processes, which today can only be accomplished using thermal energy and fossil fuels. We aim to design and synthesize electrocatalyst, which contain a high degree of activity for a desired reaction. Currently, we are exploring electrocatalyst, which can be used for environmental remediation (nitrate reduction), and energy production (oxygen reduction, nitrate reduction, nitrogen reduction, CO2 reduction). Our goal is to aid in the development to electrofuels and electrified water remediation technologies.

reverse osmosis plant for desalinating s


Water scarcity because of drought, overuse, and climate change affects nearly 20% of the world’s population. It results in the need for widespread adoption of desalination systems. By 2050, the supply of desalinated water could increase to 192 million m^3/day to accommodate population and water demand growth. Today, nearly all (~99%) desalination plants rely on fossil fuels as the primary energy source for the production of heat or electricity. If this trend continues, carbon emissions from fossil fuel-powered desalination plants could increase to 400 million tons of CO_2 per year by 2050. The waste brine produced at desalination plants is also projected to increase to 240 km3 per year by 2050 (half the volume of Lake Erie). This prompts a strong need to explore strategies for developing renewable driven desalination plants with reduced waste (CO2 and brine) production. We are using machine learning and physics based models to investigate the critical energetic, economic, and environmental performance metrics for solar-desalination systems.

Aerial view of a modern concentrated sol

Sustainable Energy Systems

In order to reduce capital costs of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants by 50% and achieve the goals set by the DOE, the performance of each material must be improved  and the manufacturing costs of each component must be decreased.  We believe  that both of these aims can be met if thermal transport properties of particulate packed-bed reactors and heat transfer media (HTM) can be mapped with a high degree of accuracy under thermally relevant conditions.  Moving packed-bed heat exchangers could replace fluidized-bed heat exchangers, which require expensive pumps and recuperators. these packed-beds.  We are beginning to address this challenge using in-situ x-ray based tomography, which can map the structural interactions between particles.

Image by Roberto Sorin

Battery Recycling

A circular economy for batteries is critical to enable widespread adoption of electric vehicles and grid energy storage. However, the main bottleneck is the lack of recycling. The LIB collection rate is 10-20%, and lithium recovery is only at ~1%. This is because current LIB recycling processes mirror nickel–cadmium, lead acid, and nickel metal hydride recycling processes, which rely on physical separations coupled with pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. Physical separations, largely consist of processes established in the mineral processing industry, and include crushing, grinding, magnetic, electrostatic and gravity based separations. These physical separations require low energy, but are process intensive. Crushing and sorting each battery component individually is not possible, and therefore all battery components (anode, cathode, and electrolyte) are mixed and recycled together. Mixing all resources together results in the need for excesses separations which adds to the energy demand, results in low material recovery, and low purity. We are examine how to electrify battery recycling to recover critical components. We are also examining specific challenges which may arise with new battery formulations.


Published Work


Yu-Hsuan Liu, Carlos Fernandez, Nhat Nuyen Bui, Likai Song, Marta C. Hatzell "Aerobic Photocatalytic Nitrogen Fixation" - In Review


S Lin, M Hatzell, R Liu, G Wells, X Xie. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 175 (C). In Review.


Lim, J., Fernández, C. A., Lee, S. W., & Hatzell, M. C. (2021). Ammonia and Nitric Acid Demands for Fertilizer Use in 2050. ACS Energy Letters, 6, 3676-3685.


Jimin Park, Megan Kelly, Jason Kang, Siddarth Seemakurti, Jasmin Ramirez, Marta C. Hatzell, Carsten Sievers, Andreas Bommarius. "Green Production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) from lignin-derived Phenol and Catechol."  Green Chemistry, 2021, DOI: 10.1039/D1GC02158C.


Wahid Zaman, Ray A. Matsumoto, Matthew W. Thompson, Yu-Hsuan Liu, Yousuf Bootwala, Marm Dixit, Slavomir Nemsak, Ethan Crumlin, Marta C. Hatzell, Peter T. Cummings, and Kelsey Hatzell. "In situ investigation of water on MXene Interfaces" - PNAS- MS# 2021-08325RR Accepted.


Zheng, Yanjie, Rodrigo A. Caceres Gonzalez, Kelsey B. Hatzell, and Marta C. Hatzell. (2021) "Large-scale solar-thermal desalination." Joule, 5, 1971-1986.


Lim, J., Liu, C. Y., Park, J., Liu, Y. H., Senftle, T. P., Lee, S. W., & Hatzell, M. C. (2021). Structure Sensitivity of Pd Facets for Enhanced Electrochemical Nitrate Reduction to Ammonia. ACS Catalysis, 11, 7568-7577.


Zheng, Yanjie, Rodrigo Caceres Gonzalez, Marta C. Hatzell, and Kelsey B. Hatzell. "Concentrating solar thermal desalination: Performance limitation analysis and possible pathways for improvement." Applied Thermal Engineering 184 (2021): 116292.


Fernandez, Carlos A., and Marta C. Hatzell. "Editors’ Choice—Economic Considerations for Low-Temperature Electrochemical Ammonia Production: Achieving Haber-Bosch Parity." Journal of the Electrochemical Society 167, no. 14 (2020): 143504.


Tricker, Andrew W., Karoline L. Hebisch, Marco Buchmann, Yu-Hsuan Liu, Marcus Rose, Eli Stavitski, Andrew J. Medford, Marta C. Hatzell, and Carsten Sievers. "Mechanocatalytic Ammonia Synthesis over TiN in Transient Microenvironments." ACS Energy Letters 5, no. 11 (2020): 3362-3367.


Fernandez, Carlos A., Nicholas M. Hortance, Yu-Hsuan Liu, Jeonghoon Lim, Kelsey B. Hatzell, and Marta C. Hatzell. "Opportunities for intermediate temperature renewable ammonia electrosynthesis." Journal of Materials Chemistry A 8, no. 31 (2020): 15591-15606.


Caceres Gonzalez, Rodrigo A., Yanjie Zheng, Kelsey B. Hatzell, and Marta C. Hatzell. "Optimizing a Cogeneration sCO2 CSP–MED Plant Using Neural Networks." ACS ES&T Engineering (2020).


Palakkal, Varada Menon, Thu Nguyen, Phuc Nguyen, Mariia Chernova, Juan E. Rubio, Gokul Venugopalan, Marta Hatzell, Xiuping Zhu, and Christopher G. Arges. "High Power Thermally Regenerative Ammonia-Copper Redox Flow Battery Enabled by a Zero Gap Cell Design, Low-Resistant Membranes, and Electrode Coatings." ACS Applied Energy Materials 3, no. 5 (2020): 4787-4798.


Moreno, Daniel, and Marta C. Hatzell. "Constant chemical potential cycles for capacitive deionization." Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 21, no. 44 (2019): 24512-24517.


Dixit, M. B., Zaman, W., Bootwala, Y., Zheng, Y., Hatzell, M. C., & Hatzell, K. B. (2019). Scalable manufacturing of hybrid solid electrolytes with interface control. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 11(48), 45087-45097.


Daniel Moreno Marta C. Hatzell. Efficiency of Thermally Assisted Capacitive Mixing and Deionization Systems. ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering (2019).


Liu, Yu-Hsuan, Manh-Hiep Vu, JeongHoon Lim, Trong-On Do, and Marta C. Hatzell. Influence of Carbonaceous Species on Aqueous Photo-catalytic Nitrogen Fixation by Titania. Faraday Discussions (2019).


Comer, Benjamin M., Porfirio Fuentes, Christian O. Dimkpa, Yu-Hsuan Liu, Carlos A. Fernandez, Pratham Arora, Matthew Realff, Upendra Singh, Marta C. Hatzell, and Andrew J. Medford. Prospects and Challenges for Solar Fertilizers. Joule (2019).


Dixit, M. B., Moreno, D., Xiao, X., Hatzell, M. C., & Hatzell, K. B. Mapping Charge Percolation in Flowable Electrodes Used in Capacitive Deionization. ACS Materials Letters (2019).


Andrey Gunawan, Richard Simmons, Megan W. Haynes, Daniel Moreno, Akanksha Menon, Marta C. Hatzell and  Shannon Yee. "Techno-economic Comparison of Cogeneration Systems with Concentrated Solar Desalination and Power Operated with Rankine and Brayton Cycles." Journal of Solar Energy Engineering (2019).


Comer, Benjamin M., Yu-Hsuan Liu, Marm B. Dixit, Kelsey Hatzell, Yifan Ye, Ethan J. Crumlin, Marta C. Hatzell, and Andrew J. Medford. "The Role of Adventitious Carbon on Photocatalytic Nitrogen Fixation by Titania." Journal of the American Chemical Society (2018).


Daniel Moreno, Yousuf Bootwala, Wan-Yu Tsai, Qiang Gao, Fengyu Shen, Nina Balke, Kelsey Hatzell, and Marta c. Hatzell  "In Situ Electrochemical Dilatometry of Phosphate Anion Electrosorption." ES&T Letters (2018).


Daniel Moreno and Marta C. Hatzell. "Efficiency of Carnot and Conventional Capacitive Deionization Cycles." Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2018).


Daniel Moreno and Marta C. Hatzell. "The influence of feed-electrode concentration differences in flow-electrode systems for capacitive deionization." Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (2018).


Song, Y., D. Johnson, R. Peng, D.K. Hensley, P.V. Bonnesen, L. Liang, J. Huang, F. Yang, F. Zhang, R. Qiao, A.P. Baddorf, T.J. Tschaplinski, N.L. Engle, M.C. Hatzell, Z. Wu, D.A. Cullen, H.M. Meyer, B.G. Sumpter, and A.J. Rondinone, A physical catalyst for the electrolysis of nitrogen to ammonia. Science Advances, 2018. 4(4).e1700336.


Hatzell, M. and Hatzell, K., Blue Refrigeration: Electrochemical Separations for Water Deionization. Journal of Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage. (2018)15 (1). ASME Young Investigator!


Zhang, Jiankai, Kelsey B. Hatzell, and Marta Hatzell. "A combined heat and power driven membrane capacitive deionization system." Environmental Science & Technology Letters (2017) 4 (11), pp 470–474.- ACS Editors Pick!


Biesheuvel, P.M., Bazant, M.Z., Cusick, R.D., Hatton, T.A., Hatzell, K.B., Hatzell, M.C., Liang, P., Lin, S., Porada, S., Santiago, J.G. and Smith, K.C., 2017. Capacitive Deionization--defining a class of desalination technologies. arXiv preprint arXiv:1709.05925.


Andrew J. Medford and Marta C. Hatzell. Photon-driven Nitrogen Fixation: Current Progress, Thermodynamic Considerations, and Future Outlook.  ACS Catalysis, 2017,7 (4), pp 2624–2643.


Nazemi, Mohammadreza, James Padgett and Marta C. Hatzell. Acid/Base Multi-Ion Exchange Membrane-Based Electrolysis System for Water Splitting.  Energy Technology, 2017,5,1–4 .


Bharadwaj, N. Ashwin K., Jin Gu Kang, Marta C. Hatzell, Kenneth S. Schweizer, Paul V. Braun, and Randy Ewoldt. Integration of colloids into a semi-flexible network of fibrin. Soft Matter (2017).


Nazemi M, Zhang J, Hatzell MC. Harvesting Natural Salinity Gradient Energy for Hydrogen Production Through Reverse Electrodialysis  Power Generation. ASME. J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor.. 2017. 


Wallack, M. J., Geise, G. M., Hatzell, M. C., Hickner, M. A., & Logan, B. E. (2015). Reducing nitrogen crossover in microbial reverse-electrodialysis cells by using adjacent anion exchange membranes and anion exchange resin. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 1(6), 865-873.



Hatzell, Kelsey B., Marta C. Hatzell, Kevin M. Cook, Muhammad Boota, Gabrielle M. Housel, Alexander McBride, E. Caglan Kumbur, and Yury Gogotsi. "Effect of oxidation of carbon material on suspension electrodes for flow electrode capacitive deionization." Environmental science & technology 49, no. 5 (2015): 3040-3047.


M. C. Hatzell, K.B. Hatzell B.E. Logan, "Using flow electrodes in multiple reactors in series for continuous energy generation from capacitive mixing" Environmental Science and Technologies Letters, 1 (12), 474-479 (2014). 


M. C. Hatzell, M. Raju, V.J. Watson, A.G. Stack, A.C.T. van Duin and B. E. Logan, "Effect of Strong Acid Functional Groups on Electrode Rise Potential in Capacitive Mixing by Double Layer Expansion", Environmental Science and Technology, 48 (23), 1401-14048 (2014).


M. C. Hatzell, X. Zhu, and B. E. Logan, "Simultaneous hydrogen generation and waste acid neutralization in a Reverse Electrodialysis System," ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 2 (9), 2211–2216 (2014).


X. Zhu, W. Yang, M. C. Hatzell, and B. E. Logan, "Energy recovery from solutions with different salinities based on swelling and shrinking of hydrogels" Environmental Science and Technology, 48 (12), 7157-7163 (2014).


X. Zhu, M. C. Hatzell, and B. E. Logan, Microbial Reverse-Electrodialysis Electrolysis and Chemical-Production Cell for H2 Production and CO2 Sequestration, Environmental Science and Technology Letters  1 (4), 231–235 (2014).


F. Zhang, J.Liu, I. Ivanov, M.C. Hatzell, W. Yang, Y.Ahn, B.E. Logan, Reference Electrode Placement Affects the Accuracy of Measurement in Microbial Electrochemical Systems, Biotechnology and Bioengineering 111 (10), 1931-1939 (2014).


M. C. Hatzell, R. D. Cusick, and B. E. Logan, Capacitive Mixing Power Production from Salinity Gradient Energy Enhanced through Exoelectrogen-Generated Ionic Currents, Energy and Environmental Science, Energy Environmental Science 7 (3), 1159-1165 (2014).


M. C. Hatzell, I.Ivanov, R. D. Cusick, X. Zhu, and B. E. Logan, Comparison of Hydrogen Production and Electrical Power Generation for energy Capture in Closed-Loop Ammonium Bicarbonate Reverse Electrodialysis Systems, Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics, 16 (4), 1632–1638 (2014).


X. Zhu, M.D. Yates, M. C. Hatzell, H.A. Rao, P.E. Saikaly, and B. E. Logan, Microbial community composition is unaffected by anode potential. Environmental Science and Technology,48 (2), 1452-1358 (2014).



R. D. Cusick, M. C. Hatzell, F. Zhang, and B. E. Logan, Minimal RED cell pairs markedly improve electrode kinetics and power production in microbial reverse electrodialysis  cells, Environmental Science and Technology, 47(24), 14518-14524 (2013).


G. M. Geise, A. J. Curtis, M. C. Hatzell, M. A. Hickner, and B. E. Logan, Effect of salt concentration differences on membrane and reverse electrodialysis stack ionic resistances, Environmental Science and Technology Letters, 1 (1), 36-39 (2013).


M. C. Hatzell and B. E. Logan, Evaluation of Flow Fields on Bubble Removal and System Performance in an Ammonium Bicarbonate Reverse Electrodialysis Stack, Journal of Membrane Science, 446, 449-455 (2013).


X. Zhu, M. C. Hatzell, R. D. Cusick, and B. E. Logan, Microbial reverse-electrodialysis chemical-production cell for acid and alkali production, Electrochemistry Communications, 31, 52-55 (2013).


M. C. Hatzell, Y. Kim, and B. E. Logan, Powering microbial electrolysis cells by capacitor circuits charged using microbial fuel cell, Journal of Power Sources, 229, 198-202 (2013).


Y. Kim, M. C. Hatzell, A. J. Hutchinson, and B. E. Logan, Capturing power at higher voltages from arrays of microbial fuel cells without voltage reversal, Energy and Environmental Science, 4 (11), 4662-4667, (2011).


M. C. Hatzell, A. Turhan, S. Kim, D. Hussey, D. Jacobson, and M. Mench, Quantification of temperature driven flow in a polymer electrolyte fuel cell using high-resolution neutron radiography, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 158, (6) B717-B726 (2011).


M.P. Manahan, M.C. Hatzell, E. Kumbur, M.M. Mench, Laser perforated fuel cell diffusion media. Part 1: Related changes in performance and water content, Journal of Power Sources, 196 (13), 5573-5582, (2011).


Manahan M, Hatzell M, Srouji A, Chidiac N, Goldberger B, Peck N, et al. International hydrogen association for hydrogen energy design competition applied topic A: Portable fuel cell. Elsevier; 2011.


A. Turhan, S. Kim, M.C. Hatzell, and M. M. Mench, Impact of channel wall hydrophobicity on through-plane water distribution and flooding behavior in a polymer electrolyte fuel cell, Electrochimica Acta, 55 (8), 2734-2745 (2010).



Mahsa Abbaszadeh

Post doctoral Researcher

Advanced Membrane Characterization


Yousuf Bootwala

PhD researcher in Mechanical Engineering

Yousuf's PhD focuses on electrochemical water treatment

Yousuf Bootwala

Danae Chipoco

PhD researcher in Material Science and Engineering

Danae is investigating nitrogen catalysis.


Carlos A. Fernandez

PhD Student in Mechanical Engineering

Carlos is conducting thermodynamic analyses on electrochemical systems for distributed fertilizer production.

carlos F.jpg

Madeline Garell

PhD student in Mechanical Engineering

Madeline is working on electrochemical water treatment and energy production technologies.


Rodrigo Caceres Gonzalez

PhD student in Mechanical Engineering

Rodrigo is using thermodynamics and machine learning to predicate sustainable strategies to integrate solar energy with desalination.


Megan Haynes

MS Student in Mechanical Engineering

Recycling Li batteries

Megan Haynes - Picture.jpg

Po-Wei Huang

PhD Student Chemical Engineering

Distributed Ammonia Production


JeongHoon Lim

PhD student in Mechanical Engineering

JeongHoon is designing next generation electrocatalyst for water remediation and energy production.


Yu-Hsuan (Carol) Liu

PhD student in Environmental Engineering

Carol is investigating photocatalytic nitrogen fixation.


Jimin Park

PhD Student Chemical Engineering

Lignin Catalysis for API production (Co-advised with Andreas Bommarius)


Erin Phillips

PhD Student Chemistry

Lignin Valorization via mechanocatalysis (Co-advised with Carsten Seivers)


Hakhyeon Song

Post Doctoral Research Scholar

Hakhyeon is working on carbon capture and conversion.

Hakhyeon Song.jpg

Johanna Tomkiewicz

MS Student in Mechanical Engineering

Johanna is working on manufacturing membranes.


Sai Varanasi

BS  student in Mechanical Engineering

Sai is investigating how machine learning can aid in understanding sustainable systems for food, energy, and water production.



Mechanical, Environmental and Chemical Engineer

Frankie studies squirrel migrations in ATL



Hatzell Lab 2021


Science.Art.Wonder Artwork 2021


Lab Lunches


Peidmont Park Picnic 2021


2019 - Hatzell Lab


2019 Retreat


Daniels Graduation -2019


Daniel's Graduation Dinner

2019 Spring Group Dinner_1.jpg

Daniel Wins ASME Competition

Daniel At ASME 2019

JeongHoon Wins Global Top TAlent from Hyundai


Science-Art-Wonder - 2019


Hatzell Lab - 2018


Visit to IFDC 2017


Hatzell Lab - 2017


2017 Capstone Design

capstone team 2.jpg

Contact Us

771 Ferst Drive NW

Love Bldg - Room 316
Atlanta, GA 30332


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