Washburn Shops 310
Affiliated Department or Office
PhD Materials Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 1997
Dual SB Economics and Materials Science & Engineering, MIT 1992

Adam C. Powell, IV is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical & Materials Engineering department who joined the WPI faculty in August 2018. His field is materials processing, and research focuses on greenhouse gas emissions reduction, elimination, and drawdown. Current projects aim to reduce vehicle body weight, lower solar cell manufacturing energy use and cost with improved safety, reduce or eliminate aviation greenhouse gas impact, power ships and trains with zero emissions, and improve grid stability as we drive toward 100% renewables. The primary tools for achieving these goals are mathematical and techno-economic modeling of metal processes, particularly electrochemical processes, validated by key experiments.

Powell's research has resulted in 19 patents and 95 publications across materials classes: metal extraction/refining and product development, thin films, ceramic coatings, polymer membranes, batteries, and electromagnetic propulsion. He is Senior Technical Advisor to SilarTek (Solar Silicon Technology), a start-up that pursues low-cost, scalable, and safe methods to produce pure elements, including solar silicon. He is the author of nine open source computational tools in materials processing, microstructure and thermodynamics modeling. He is an enthusiastic proponent of international R&D collaboration, and is the Founding Director of two Major Qualifying Project (senior team capstone) sites in Japan: Kyoto-KUAS, and Tokyo.

Visit Digital WPI to view student research and projects advised by Professor Powell.

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

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SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

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SDG 13: Climate Action

SDG 13: Climate Action - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

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SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

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Scholarly Work

Professor Powell focuses his research on validated mathematical modeling of metal process development for clean energy and energy efficiency.  


Telgerafchi, A. E., Rutherford, M., Espinosa, G., McArthur, D., Masse, N., Perrin, B., ... & Powell IV, A. C. (2023). Magnesium production by molten salt electrolysis with liquid tin cathode and multiple effect distillation. Frontiers in Chemistry, 11.

Wu, Y. J., Scarponi, J., Powell, A., & Jayachandran, J. (2023). Magnesium hydride slurry: A potential net-zero carbon dioxide emitting aviation fuel. Fuel, 333, 126232.

Powell, A., Lechasseur, K., & Wodin-Schwartz, S. (2022, August). Improvement in Student Learning Objectives from Group Discussions Between Exam Sittings. In 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.

Shahabuddin, M., Powell IV, A. C., & Wang, Y. (2022). Preliminary Economic Analysis of Red Mud Valorization via Colloidal Aqueous Electrolytic Reduction in a Modern Electricity Infrastructure. Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy, 8(2), 900-912.

Chinwego, C., Wagner, H., Giancola, E., Jironvil, J., & Powell, A. (2022). Technoeconomic analysis of rare-earth metal recycling using efficient metal distillation. Jom, 74(4), 1296-1305.

Moudgal, A., Buasai, S., Wu, Y. J., McMahon, A., Hazerjian, J. M., Luu, V., ... & Zhong, Y. (2021). Finite element analysis and techno-economic modeling of solar silicon molten salt electrolysis. JOM, 73, 233-243.


Professional Highlights & Honors
Best Paper, 29th Int’l Symp. Artificial Life and Robotics (Proceedings #13), 2024

Best Paper, MIT A+B Conference(Proceedings #9), 2022

Best Paper Award, ASEE (Proceedings #8), 2022

WPI James Nichols Heald Research Award, 2021

WPI Provost’s Award (Best Senior Project) in Mechanical Engineering, 2020

TECO Technology Foundation 2014 Green Tech Contest Silver Medal Team, 2014

Boston Business Journal Emerging Leader, 2013

TMS Extraction & Processing Division Distinguished Service Award, 2013

Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) Mann Redmayne Medal for paper by Suput et al. (Refereed publication #23), 2008

TMS Materials Processing & Manufacturing Division Education Resource Award, 2007

MIT Alumni Association Volunteer Honor Roll of Service (Awarded to alumni who contribute significantly to student life) March 2005, 2005

Federal Laboratories Consortium Technology Transfer Award, 1999

Wulff Award for Excellence in Teaching (Best Teaching Assistant), MIT, 1995

AT&T CRFP Fellowship, 1992 - 1997


Boston Business Journal
WPI researchers make progress on net-zero aviation fuel

The Boston Business Journal spoke with Jagan Jayachandran, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, and Adam Powell, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering about their research to develop a net-zero aviation fuel made with magnesium.

Boston 25
WPI research on car corrosion appears on Boston 25

WPI mechanical engineering professor Adam Powell appeared in a 3-minute segment on Boston 25 News discussing approaches to reducing corrosion in cars. Powell, who was awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy, noted that WPI “…will be creating advanced lightweight components that can last as long as the rest of conventional cars.” (References to WPI start at 1:56.)