Krishnan Rajeshwar

Krishnan Rajeshwar, ECS senior vice president and co-founder of UTA’s Center for Renewable Energy, Science and Technology

New research headed by ECS senior vice president Krishnan Rajeshwar has developed “green fuels” to power cars, home appliances, and even impact critical energy storage devices.

Solar fuels addressing global issues

Rajeshwar’s research works to address critical global and environmental issue by creating an inexpensive way to generate fuel from harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide.

(MORE: Read additional publications by Rajeshwar.)

The University of Texas at Arlington professor and 35 year ECS member has developed a novel high-performing material for cells that harness sunlight to split carbon dioxide and water into usable fuels like methanol and hydrogen gas.

From harmful to helpful

“Technologies that simultaneously permit us to remove greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide while harnessing and storing the energy of sunlight as fuel are at the forefront of current research,” Rajeshwar said. “Our new material could improve the safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar fuel generation, which is not yet economically viable.”

(MORE: Read the full study as published in ChemElectroChem Europe.)

This from University of Texas at Arlington:

The new hybrid platform uses ultra-long carbon nanotube networks with a homogeneous coating of copper oxide nanocrystals. It demonstrates both the high electrical conductivity of carbon nanotubes and the photocathode qualities of copper oxide, efficiently converting light into the photocurrents needed for the photoelectrochemical reduction process.

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Microchip Energy

ECS members have found a way to embed a supercapacitor energy storage device in a silicon wafer of a microchip.
Image: Drexel University.

More than half a decade of research has revealed that carbon films can give microchips energy storage capabilities.

An international team, led by ECS members Yury Gogotsi and Patrice Simon, has confirmed their process for making carbon films and micro-supercapacitors that will allow microchips and their power sources to become one and the same.

(MORE: Read additional publications by Gogotsi.)

“This has taken us quite some time, but we set a lofty goal of not just making an energy storage device as small as a microchip—but actually making an energy storage device that is part of the microchip and to do it in a way that is easily integrated into current silicon chip manufacturing processes,” Simon said. “With this achievement, the future is now wide open for chip and personal electronics manufacturers.”

(MORE: Read additional publications by Simon.)

This research proves that the versatile films can be seamlessly integrated into systems that power silicon-based microchips, providing the ability to power items from laptops to smart watches.

“The place where most people will eventually notice the impact of this development is in the size of their personal electronic devices, their smart phones, fitbits89 and watches,” Gogotsi said. “Even more importantly, on-chip energy storage is needed to create the Internet of Things – the network of all kinds of physical objects ranging from vehicles and buildings to our clothes embedded with electronics, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. This work is an important step toward that future.”

This from Drexel University:

The researchers’ method for depositing carbon onto a silicon wafer is consistent with microchip fabrication procedures currently in use, thus easing the challenges of integration of energy storage devices into electronic device architecture. As part of the research, the group showed how it could deposit the carbon films on silicon wafers in a variety of shapes and configurations to create dozens of supercapacitors on a single silicon wafer.

Read the full article.

The carbon films also have the potential to have applications in dynamic seals, gas filtration, and water desalination or purification.

Battery technology for water desalination

Inspired by the principles of the sodium ion battery, Kyle Smith (right) is re-appropriating technology to make huge strides in water desalination.
Image: L. Brian Stauffer

Battery applications range from powering electronic devices to storing energy harvested from renewable sources, but batteries have a range of applications beyond the obvious. Now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are taking existing battery technology and applying it to efforts in water desalination.

The researchers have published the open access article in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

“We are developing a device that will use the materials in batteries to take salt out of water with the smallest amount of energy that we can,” said Kyle Smith, ECS member and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “One thing I’m excited about is that by publishing this paper, we’re introducing a new type of device to the battery community and to the desalination community.”

Water desalination technologies have flourished as water needs have grown globally. This could be linked to growing populations or drought. However, because of technical hurdles, wide-spread implementation of these technologies has been difficult. However, the new technologies developed could combat that issue by using electricity to draw charged salt ions out of the water.

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Chennupati Jagadish, distinguished professor at Australian National University

Chennupati Jagadish, distinguished professor at Australian National University

Chennupati Jagadish, long-time member and ECS Fellow, has recently been selected to receive Australia’s highest civilian honor. The Australian National University distingused professor has been named a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), for his “eminent service to physics and engineering, particularly in the field of nanotechnology, to education as a leading academic, researcher, author and mentor, and through executive roles with national and international scientific advisory institutions.”

(MORE: Read Jagadish’s published research in the ECS Digital Library.)

“I am humbled, honored, and grateful for this honor,” Jagadish, former recipient of the ECS Electronics and Photonics Divison Award, said. “This is a wonderful recognition for 25 plus years of work my research group at the Australian National University in the field of semiconductor optoelectronics and nanotechnology.”

Jagadish’s work takes the form of such novel innovations as lasers for telecommunications, increased efficiency solar cells, and artificial, trainable neurons.

Throughout his scientific career, Jagadish has published more than 620 research papers and five U.S. patents.
“They say that rest is for the weak,” Jangadish said. “I say, ‘Look, I’m having fun.’ Science is fun for me and when you’re having fun you don’t really look at how long you’re working.”

SOFC

New material could help SOFCs operate more efficiently and cheaply.
Image: Bloom Energy

Solid oxide fuel cells may be producing cleaner energy at a more efficient level soon, thanks to a development at the University of Cambridge.

A new thin-film electrolyte material, developed by a team including ECS member Sergei Kalinin, has the potential to propel portable power sources due to its ability to achieve high performance levels and very low temperatures.

Advancing fuel cells

With a huge scientific focus shift toward developing new energy technologies, fuel cells have emerged as a big contender. Transitioning from a simple laboratory curiosity in the 19th century to a main contender for powering electric vehicles, researchers have dedicated much energy to building an efficient, cost effective fuel cell.

(MORE: Read “Battery and Fuel Cell Technology“)

This from University of Cambridge:

By using thin-film electrolyte layers, micro solid oxide fuel cells offer a concentrated energy source, with potential applications in portable power sources for electronic consumer or medical devices, or those that need uninterruptable power supplies such as those used by the military or in recreational vehicles.

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ECS Member Makes Strides in Battery Safety

IMG_8802_cropped

Image: Penn State

With the newly popular hoverboards bursting into flames, safety in batteries has made its way to the public spotlight. To increase lithium ion battery safety, one ECS member is working to develop batteries with built in sensors to warn users of potential problems.

Chao-Yang Wang, 19-year ECS member, is taking on the challenge of making the highly popular lithium ion battery safer in light of demands for smaller, more energy efficient devices.

“Li-ion batteries essentially provide portable power for everything,” says Wang. “Your cell phone charge can now last for a week instead of a day, but it’s still the same size. The battery has a lot more energy density, you are compressing more and more energy into a smaller space, and you have to be careful when you do that. Our job is to come up with solutions to provide safety while at the same time increasing performance.”

While lithium ion batteries are typically safe under normal conditions, the battery’s flammable electrolyte solution could overheat and catch fire if it is punctured or overcharged.

(more…)

Understanding Corrosion from Nano to Macro

From oil pipeline breaks to leaks in chemical plants, corrosion is one of the most damaging and costly naturally occurring events seen today. In order to better understand and prevent to corrosion process, John Scully, ECS member since and 2016 winner of the Society’s Linford Award, has teamed up with a multidisciplinary team to understand corrosion from the nano to the macroscale.

A new Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) has emerged with the mission of preventing corrosion. Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, the ultimate goal of the project is to understand, predict, and control the role of minor elements on the early stages of corrosion in metal alloys.

At its core, corrosion is the degradation of materials due to electrochemical reactions with the environment. In addition to yielding safety issues, corrosion costs an expected $23 billion annually, according to the Department of Defense.

Not only can corrosion cause buildings and bridges to collapse, but corrosion o electrical outlets and medical implants can cause fires and blood poisoning.

In order to address this complex problems, Scully and others are creating a team comprised of those versed in electrochemistry, microscopy, tomography, and simulations.

Savinell_Robert_F

Robert Savinell, editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society

Since 1902, ECS’s flagship journal—the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES) originally published as Transactions of The Electrochemical Society—has published some of the best and most innovative research in the field of electrochemical science and technology.

With a historical tradition of scientific excellence and commitment to the pursuit and open exchange of scientific knowledge, JES has accumulated papers through the years that have long-lasting merit. In an effort to preserve the voices of distinguished scientists and engineers who have helped shape our world, the Society implemented the ECS Digital Library Leadership Collection.

Robert Savinell, professor at Case Western Reserve University, is one of the newest faces to conserve this highly significant research. Through a generous gift to the ECS Digital Library, The Robert F. Savinell Collection has been established and the Society has taken yet another step toward its commitment to open access publishing.

Preserving the science of the past

“Most of the papers that get published in the ECS journals have long-lasting value,” says Savinell, editor of JES. “They’re more than just recent news blurbs that introduce a new idea that in a few years will fade away.”

Through a strong editorial and peer-review process, the papers published in JES are not only topically relevant when they are published, but also carry a fundamental insight that applies more broadly than their specific application.

“I think there’s a lot of value in that kind of information that’s being archived forever,” Savinell says.

Beyond the preservation of these timeless voices, Savinell’s gift to the leadership collection supports ECS’s commitment to open access publishing—something Savinell sees as the ultimate future of scholarly publications.

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Solar Geoengineering and Climate Change

The Earth is getting warmer and greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise. With carbon dioxide levels at their highest in 650,000 years, scientists across the global are grappling with the question of how to stop global warming.

For many, alternative energy sources are the answer. While the implementation of this technology is crucial for the development of a carbon-free society, flipping the grid is easier said than done. The U.S. alone is highly dependent on fossil fuels, which emit high level of greenhouse gases. Additionally, transitioning the grid to 100 percent renewables would not fully solve the issue. Emissions will still exist in the atmosphere, with warming happening right now.

“When people emerge from poverty and move toward prosperity, they consume more energy,” said Adam Heller in a recent plenary lecture.

The Need for a Solution

Currently, 13 percent of carbon dioxide emissions stem from two industries: steel and cement. According to Heller, these industry are directly correlated to global wealth—what he deems the driving force of acceleration in climate change. To put that in perspective, the solar energy technology that is currently in place in the U.S. saves only 0.3 percent through the use of solar energy, according to Heller. With carbon dioxide emissions constantly accelerating, increasing by 2 percent every year, scientists are looking for solutions to this pressing issue.

“This will lead to a catastrophe,” Heller said. “The question is, what do we do about this catastrophe?”

For Heller and other scientists, part of the answer lies in solar geoengineering (SGE).

“We need to learn something about geoengineering,” Heller said. “We need to learn something about reflecting light from the sun through aerosols in the atmosphere.”

(more…)

Rusnanoprize Awarded to ECS Members

id41860Two ECS members were recently awarded the 2015 RUSNANOPRIZE Nanotechnology International Prize for their work in developing nanostructured carbon materials, which have facilitated the commercialization and wide-use of supercapacitors in energy storage, automotive, and many other industries. The organization honored Yury Gogotsi and Patrice Simon for their exemplary research in this field.

The RUSNANOPRIZE Nanotechnology International Prize, established in 2009, is presented annually to those working on nanotechnology projects that have substantial economic or social potential. The prize is aimed to promote successful commercialization of novel technology and strengthening collaboration in the field of nanotechnology.

Yury Gogotsi is a professor at Drexel University and director of the Anthony J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute. Among his most notable accomplishments, Gogotsi was a member of a team that discovered a novel family of two-dimensional carbides and nitrides, which have helped open the door for exceptional energy storage devices. Additionally, Gogotsi’s hand in discovering and describing new forms of carbon and the development of a “green” supercapacitor built of environmentally friendly materials has advanced the field of energy technology.

Gogotsi is a Fellow of ECS and is currently the advisor of the Drexel ECS Student Chapter.

Patrice Simon is a professor at Paul Sabatier University. As a materials scientist and electrochemist, Simon has special interest in designing the next generation of batteries and supercapacitors. As the leader of the French Network on Electrochemical Energy Storage, Simon is making strides in developing next-gen technology through combining 17 labs and 15 companies in an effort to apply novel principals to issues in energy storage and technology. As an internationally recognized leader in the field of nanotechnology for energy storage, Simon’s work focuses on benefiting the entire energy storage industry.

Simon has been a member of ECS for 15 years.

ICYMI: Find other ECS researchers are doing in the world of nanocarbons.

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