Member Spotlight – Yossef Elabd

Dr. Yossef Elabd, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation.Image: Texas A&M University

Dr. Yossef Elabd, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation.
Image: Texas A&M University

The Electrochemical Society’s Yossef A. Elabd is using electrochemical science to work toward global sustainability with his new advancements in fuel cell car technology.

Elabd, an active member of ECS’s Battery Division, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation – focusing not only on the science, but also the environment.

“I just want to drive my car with water vapor coming out the back of it,” Elabd said.

With this new technology and initiatives such as the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, Elabd’s statement may become an achievable reality for many people in the near future.

The idea of the fuel cell vehicle is every environmentalist’s dream, but the current issues deal with the sustainability of the vehicle. The current fuel cell car uses a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyte for its platinum-based electrodes.

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Deep-Fried Graphene for Energy Storage

The 5-µm-diameter graphene balls in these scanning electron microscope images contain graphene nanosheets radiating outward from the center.Credit: Chem. Mater.

The 5-µm-diameter graphene balls in these scanning electron microscope images contain graphene nanosheets radiating outward from the center.
Credit: Chem. Mater.

Materials scientists have developed a new technique that could provide a simpler and more effective way to produce electrode materials for batteries and supercapacitors, which could potentially lead to devices with improved energy and power densities.

The researchers have unlocked this new battery technology by exposing tiny bits of graphene to a process that is very similar to deep-frying.

Prior to this development, scientists had difficulty using graphene in electrodes due to the difficulty encountered when processing the material. However, the researchers out of Yonsei University have learned how to harness the material’s electrical and mechanical properties while retaining its high surface are by using an alternative technique.

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Safer, Thinner Lithium Rechargeables

New technology developed by researchers at the University of Michigan has been designed with the intention of preventing fires caused by lithium-ion battery malfunctions.

Researchers are making this possible by creating an advanced barrier between the electrodes in the lithium-ion battery. The barrier is made with nanofibers extracted from Kevlar – the material known for its use in bulletproof vests. The Kevlar nanofibers stifle the growth of metal tendrils that can become unwanted pathways for electrical current.

“Unlike other ultra strong material such as carbon nanotubes, Kevlar is an insulator,” said Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering. “This property is perfect for separators that need to prevent shorting between two electrodes.”

Short-circuiting happens in these batteries when holes in the membranes are too big and dendrites poke through to the membrane. They create a path for electrons within the battery, shorting it out.

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A battery at the University of Oxford has been incessantly ringing two bells for 175 years—but no one knows exactly why it’s lasted so long.

A battery at the University of Oxford has been incessantly ringing two bells for 175 years—but no one knows exactly why it’s lasted so long.

The “world’s most durable battery” has been continuously functioning since 1840 – and no one knows why this mysterious battery, commonly referred to as the Oxford Electric Bell, has lasted s long.

It all begins at the London-based instrument-manufacturing firm Watkins and Hill, where the battery was manufactured with dry piles – one of the first forms of electric batteries developed by Giuseppe Zamboni in the early 19th century.

In the mid-1800s, a physics professor got his hands on the mysterious device and its bells have been incessantly ringing every since.

This from Smithsonian:

In the mid-1800s, Robert Walker, a physics professor at the University of Oxford, acquired an interesting device. It was a battery designed to propel a hanging metal ball quickly back and forth, between two small bells. Today, 175 years after it was manufactured, the Oxford Electric Bell, as it is often referred to, is still ringing – in fact, it is said to have rung over 10 billion times.

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Development in Lithium-Ion Batteries

You can thank “dendrites” when your smartphone battery goes from a solid 40 percent charge to completely dead in a matter of 20 minutes. Thankfully, researchers out of Purdue University are researching these dendrites – otherwise known as the slayer of lithium-ion batteries – and developing something that could greatly improve the li-ion.

Dendrites work to destroy lithium-ion batteries by forming an anode electrode and growing until they affect battery performance – potentially resulting in complete battery failure.

The new study out of Purdue University explores this issue with the intention of creating a safer and longer-lasting lithium-ion battery that could be charged within minutes instead of hours.

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The Arizona Section of ECS will be hosting a meeting with special guest speaker Professor Robert F. Savinell.

The Arizona Section of ECS will be hosting a meeting with special guest speaker Professor Robert F. Savinell.

Date: January 26, 2014

Time: Networking and refreshments at 6:15 PM; Seminar begins at 7:00 PM

Place: University of Arizona
Tuscon, AZ 85721
Agave Room, 4th Floor of Student Union Building

Cost: Free to attend; $5 for light refreshments

Speaker: Professor Robert F. Savinell
George S. Dively Professor of Electrochemical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University
Professor Savinell is recognized as a leading authority on electrochemical energy storage and conversion. His research has been directed at fundamental science and engineering research for electrochemical systems and novel device design, development, and optimization. Dr. Savinell has over 100 publications and seven patents in the electrochemical field. He is a past chair of ECS’s Electrolytic and Electrochemical Engineering Division, a former editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, and a Fellow of ECS.

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Member Spotlight – Ryohei Mori

The aluminum-air battery has the potential to serve as a short-term power source for electric vehicles.Image: Journal of The Electrochemical Society

The aluminum-air battery has the potential to serve as a short-term power source for electric vehicles.
Image: Journal of The Electrochemical Society

A new long-life aluminum-air battery is set to resolve challenges in rechargeable energy storage technology, thanks to ECS member Ryohei Mori.

Mori’s development has yielded a new type of aluminum-air battery, which is rechargeable by refilling with either salt or fresh water.

The research is detailed in an open access article in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, where Mori explains how he modified the structure of the previous aluminum-air battery to ensure a longer battery life.

Theoretically, metal-air technology can have very high energy densities, which makes it a promising candidate for next-generation batteries that could enable such things as long-range battery-electric vehicles.

However, the long-standing barrier of anode corrosion and byproduct accumulation have halted these batteries from achieving their full potential. Dr. Mori’s recently published paper, “Addition of Ceramic Barriers to Aluminum-Air batteries to Suppress By-product Formation on Electrodes,” details how to combat this issue.

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A New Generation of Electric Car Battery

Scientists out of the University of Waterloo are one step closer to inventing a cheaper, lighter and more powerful rechargeable battery for electric vehicles. At the heart of this discovery lies a breakthrough in lithium-sulfur batteries due to an ultra-thin nanomaterial.

This from the University of Waterloo:

Their discovery of a material that maintains a rechargeable sulfur cathode helps to overcome a primary hurdle to building a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery. Such a battery can theoretically power an electric car three times further than current lithium-ion batteries for the same weight – at much lower cost.

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New Smartphone Battery Charges in Seconds

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is coming to a close, but not before showcasing a huge breakthrough in battery technology.

The Israeli start-up company StoreDot showed off their new product at CES: a smartphone battery that can charge in just seconds.

StoreDot’s battery charges 100 times faster than the present lithium-ion batteries and can last about five hours on a two minute charge.

However, the battery cannot be retrofitted to existing devices because most phones would be fried by the 40 amps of electricity. Instead, StoreDot’s battery is completely new – containing special synthesized organic molecules.

“We have reactions in the battery that are non-traditional reactions that allow us to charge very fast, moving ions from an anode to a cathode at a speed that was not possible before we had these materials,” Doron Myersdorf, the company’s chief executive, told BBC.

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First Hybrid-Electric Airplane (Video)

hybrid-electric-airplane

An aircraft with a parallel hybrid engine – the first ever to be able to recharge its batteries in flight – has been successfully tested in the UK, an important early step towards cleaner, low-carbon air travel.
Credit: University of Cambridge

The United Kingdom is taking an important step towards cleaner, low-carbon air travel with the first successfully tested airplane with a parallel hybrid-electric engine. The novel aircraft is the first of its kind due to the ability to recharge its batteries while in flight.

This development comes out of the University of Cambridge in conjunction with Boeing, where they have worked to successfully develop a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system for an aircraft that will use up to 30 percent less fuel than a comparable plane with a petrol-only engine.

To create the plane, the researches used the same basic principals as in a hybrid car. The aircraft uses a 4-stroke piston engine and an electric motor/generator. When maximum power is required – i.e. during takeoff – the engine and electric motor work together to power the plane. Once cruise height is reached, the motor switches to generator mode to recharge its batteries.

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