2017 ECS Outstanding Student Chapter

By: Alyssa Doyle, ECS Membership Intern

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ECS would like to congratulate the 2017 Outstanding Student Chapter winner, the University of Maryland for their dedication and commitment to the advancement of solid state and electrochemical science and technology.

The award (formerly The Gwendolyn B. Wood Section Excellence Award) was first created in 2012 to distinguish student chapters that represent and uphold ECS’s mission by maintaining an active student membership base, participating in various technical activities, and organizing community outreach in the fields of electrochemical and solid state science and engineering education.

The University of Maryland student chapter has come a long way since its initial approval in 2011 and has become one of ECS’s most exemplary chapters. The chapter previously won the Outstanding Student Chapter award in 2013 and has been a Chapter of Excellence for the last three years.

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BatteryA novel compound called 3Q conducts electricity and retains energy better than other organic materials currently used in batteries, researchers report.

“Our study provides evidence that 3Q, and organic molecules of similar structures, in combination with graphene, are promising candidates for the development of eco-friendly, high capacity rechargeable batteries with long life cycles,” says Loh Kian Ping, professor in the chemistry department at NUS Faculty of Science.

Rechargeable batteries are the key energy storage component in many large-scale battery systems like electric vehicles and smart renewable energy grids. With the growing demand of these battery systems, researchers are turning to more sustainable, environmentally friendly methods of producing them. One option is to use organic materials as an electrode in the rechargeable battery.

Organic electrodes leave lower environment footprints during production and disposal which offers a more eco-friendly alternative to inorganic metal oxide electrodes commonly used in rechargeable batteries.

The structures of organic electrodes can also be engineered to support high energy storage capabilities. The challenge, however, is the poor electrical conductivity and stability of organic compounds when used in batteries. Organic materials currently used as electrodes in rechargeable batteries—such as conductive polymers and organosulfer compounds—also face rapid loss in energy after multiple charges.

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ECS Ride-and-Learn

Want to see Electrochemistry in Action and ride in one of the world’s first commercial fuel cell cars while at the 232nd ECS Meeting? Join us for a Ride-and Learn on Monday, October 2 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm in front of the main entrance of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. This Ride-and-Learn is open to all ECS meeting attendees. First come, first serve.

Fuel cell cars run on hydrogen fuel, use a fuel cell that converts hydrogen into the electricity that powers the car’s electric motor and emit only water from the tailpipe. For the first time ever, they are commercially available, have started hitting the streets and the hydrogen stations to fuel them are up and running in select U.S. regions.

This Ride-and-Learn is organized by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. FCTO has funded early-stage hydrogen and fuel cells research and development enabling a 60 percent reduction in fuel cell cost, a fourfold increase in fuel cell durability and an 80 percent cut in the cost of electrolyzers over the past decade. You can learn more about this exciting technology and the work FCTO funds to enable hydrogen and fuel cell technological breakthroughs at energy.gov/fuelcells.

Following the 232nd ECS Meeting, the third annual National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day will take place on October 8, 2017, aimed at raising awareness and celebrating advances in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. The U.S. Department of Energy, Fuel Cell and Hydrogen and Energy Association , its members, industry organizations, and state and federal governments will be commemorating National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell day with a variety of activities and events across the country.

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A new device that runs on almost zero power can transmit data across distances of up to 2.8 kilometers—breaking a long-held barrier—and could lead to a vast array of interconnected devices.

For example, flexible electronics—such as knee patches that capture range of motion in arthritic patients or patches that use sweat to detect fatigue in athletes and soldiers—hold great promise for collecting medically relevant data.

But today’s flexible electronics and other sensors that can’t employ bulky batteries and need to operate with very low power typically can’t communicate with other devices more than a few feet or meters away. This limits their practical use in applications for medical monitoring, home sensing to smart cities, and precision agriculture.

By contrast, the new long-range backscatter system, which uses reflected radio signals to transmit data at extremely low power and low cost, achieve reliable coverage throughout a 4,800-square-foot house, an office area covering 41 rooms, and a one-acre vegetable farm.

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By: Joshua M. Pearce, Michigan Technology University

SolarAs the U.S. military increases its use of drones in surveillance and combat overseas, the danger posed by a threat back at home grows. Many drone flights are piloted by soldiers located in the U.S., even when the drones are flying over Yemen or Iraq or Syria. Those pilots and their control systems depend on the American electricity grid – large, complex, interconnected and very vulnerable to attack.

Without electricity from civilian power plants, the most advanced military in world history could be crippled. The U.S. Department of Energy has begged for new authority to defend against weaknesses in the grid in a nearly 500-page comprehensive study issued in January 2017 warning that it’s only a matter of time before the grid fails, due to disaster or attack. A new study by a team I led reveals the three ways American military bases’ electrical power sources are threatened, and shows how the U.S. military could take advantage of solar power to significantly improve national security.

A triple threat

The first threat to the electricity grid comes from nature. Severe weather disasters resulting in power outages cause between US$25 billion and $70 billion in the U.S. each year – and that’s average years, not those including increasingly frequent major storms, like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The second type of threat is from traditional acts of crime or terrorism, such as bombing or sabotage. For example, a 2013 sniper attack on a Pacific Gas and Electric substation in California disabled 17 transformers supplying power to Silicon Valley. In what the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission called “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred,” the attacker – who may have been an insider – fired about 100 rounds of .30-caliber rifle ammunition into the radiators of 17 electricity transformers over the course of 19 minutes. The electronics overheated and shut down. Fortunately, power company engineers managed to keep the lights on in Silicon Valley by routing power from other sources.

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From Wastewater to Fertilizer

The National Science Foundation is spearheading a $2.4 million research initiative to develop new methods to create commercial fertilizer out of wastewater nutrients. Among the researchers working on this project, ECS member and chair of the Society’s Energy Technology Divison, Andrew Herring, is leading an electrochemical engineering team in electrode design, water chemistry, electrochemical operations, and developing a bench-scale electrochemical reactor design.

The goal of this project is to take the nitrogen and phosphorus that exists in wastewater and transform it into fertilizer struvite, which is made up of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate.

“Basically, you’d have a hog barn and you’d collect the liquid effluent from the farm and run it through a reactor and you’d get a solid fertilizer out of the back and, hopefully, energy,” Herring, Colorado School of Mines professor, says in a statement. “At the end of the day, we hope to optimize this thing so it makes energy, saves water, and produces fertilizer for food production.”

This work is is a collaborative effort with ECS members Lauren Greenlee, lead princial investigator and Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas; and Julie Renner, Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University.

This isn’t Herring’s first foray into water and energy research. During the PRiME 2016 meeting, Herring co-organized the Energy/Water Nexus: Power from Saline Solutions symposium.

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Student Opportunities in National Harbor

BMWBy: Alyssa Doyle, ECS Membership Intern

As a student registrant, you have several unique opportunities to get involved in the 232nd ECS Meeting in National Harbor, MD.

Student Mixer (sponsored by BMW)
As an upcoming leader in the electrochemistry and solid state science professions, students are encouraged to attend the mixer to network with their future colleagues. Light refreshments and food will be available.

The event is being held on Monday from 1900-2100h. Student member tickets are $5 and student nonmember tickets $15.

Career Expo
A pilot-program for the society biannual meeting, the event creates the opportunity for employers/recruiters to meet and interview job-seekers, volunteers, and post-doctoral candidates in electrochemistry and solid state science.

The event will be located in the Exhibit Hall during the technical exhibit hours. Free to all meeting registrants.

Author Information Session
Join Robert Savinell, Dennis Hess, and Jeff Fergus for insight into opportunities available for publishing with ECS, understanding the journals continuous publication model and types of articles published by ECS, how to publish open access and how ECS’s Free the Science initiative supports open access for authors, where content is accessible after publication, and more.

The event will be located in Maryland 4 on Tuesday from 1600h-1700h. Open to all meeting attendees.

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In May 2017, we sat down with Gerald Frankel at the 231st ECS Meeting in New Orleans. Frankel is a technical editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, corrosion expert, and open access advocate. Currently, he is a professor of materials science and engineering at The Ohio State University.

Since joining ECS, Jerry has served as chair of the Society’s Corrosion Division and was named ECS fellow in 2006. His research efforts focus on topics ranging from degradation of materials to atmospheric corrosion. In 2012, he was appointed by President Obama to the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Podbean, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher and Acast.

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Founder of the highly controversial Sci-Hub, Alexandra Elbakyan, has recently pulled access to the research pirate site in Russia. After criticism from Russian scientists, Elbakayan finally pulled the plug on Russia’s access to Sci-Hub after researchers named a new parasitic insect after her.

The so-called “Pirate Bay of science” made its mark in 2011 when Kazakhstan hacked into hundreds of scholarly journals, leaking million documents and illegally allowing the public to freely access scientific papers.

Previously, Elbakyan referred to the internet as a “global brain,” stating that paywalls should not exist in order to provide a free flow of content that can help build society. Now, she has described recent attacks on her as an “extreme injustice,” saying: “If you analyze the situation with scientific publications, the real parasites are scientific publishers, and Sci-Hub, on the contrary, fights for equal access to scientific information.”

This is not the first to Sci-Hub has come under attack. In June 2017, publishing giant Elsevier won a legal judgement against sites like Sci-Hub, awarding the publisher $15 million in damages for copyright infringement. The site is also facing legal action from the American Chemical Society.

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ARPA-EIn a recent post by Bill Gates, the business magnate identified the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, more commonly known as ARPA-E, as his favorite obscure government agency.

Gates cited the agency as a key in solving pressing energy issues, referencing his faith in ARPA-E as demonstrated through his involvement in the $1 billion investment funding created in 2016 through Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV).

BEV was developed as an initiative to provide affordable, clean energy to people across the globe. In order to make that energy future possible, Gates and his partners at BEV knew they would have to depend on public, government funded research.

Since its establishment in 2009 under then U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, ARPA-E has acted as an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy that can help deliver the highly innovative technology that ventures like BEV depend on. From the agency’s REFUEL program, which promotes the development of carbon-neutral fuels to BEEST, funding research in energy storage for transportation, ARPA-E funds high-risk, high-reward endeavors capable of transforming energy landscapes.

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