In May 2017 during the 231st ECS Meeting, we sat down with 2016-2017 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship winner, Elizabeth Biddinger, to discuss green chemistry, sustainable engineering, and the future of transportation. The conversation was led by Amanda Staller, ECS’s web content specialist.

Biddinger is an assistant professor at the City College of New York, part of the City University of New York system. There, she leads a research group that covers research areas ranging from electrocatalysis to ionic liquids. Her work in switchable electrolytes earned her a spot among the 2016-2017 fellowship winners.

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Toyota Fellowships Paying Off

ToyotaStarting in 2014, ECS partnered with Toyota Research Institute of North America to establish a fellowship for young researchers working in green energy technology, including efforts to find viable alternative energy sources as a replacement for oil, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and prevent air pollution.

The proposal submission deadline for the 2017-2018 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship is Jan. 31, 2017. As we gear up for the third year of fellowship, ECS is checking in with two of the inaugural winners.

Methane to methanol conversion with Yogesh Surendranath

Yogesh Surendranath, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was one of the inaugural fellowship winners for his work in methane to methanol conversion.

“For a young investigator, this fellowship gives a greater visibility to research efforts and provides a degree of freedom,” Surendranath says. “Junior faculty members, while they are at the time in their careers where they are most likely to take on challenging problems, are at the very same time finding funding challenging. The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship provided us that freedom to tackle new and interesting areas.”

The proposed research that ultimately won Surendranath and his group a $50,000 grant is called, “Methanol Electrosynthesis at Carbon-Supported Molecular Active Sites.”

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ECS Toyota Fellowship
The Electrochemical Society with Toyota North America
2017-2018 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship
for Projects in Green Energy Technology

Proposal Submission Deadline: January 31, 2017

ECS, in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), is requesting proposals from young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology.

Global development of industry and technology in the 20th century, increased production of vehicles and the growing population have resulted in massive consumption of fossil fuels. Today, the automotive industry faces three challenges regarding environmental and energy issues: (1) finding a viable alternative energy source as a replacement for oil, (2) reducing CO2 emissions and (3) preventing air pollution. Although the demand for oil alternatives—such as natural gas, electricity and hydrogen—may grow, each alternative energy source has its disadvantages. Currently, oil remains the main source of automotive fuel; however, further research and development of alternative energies may bring change.

Fellowship Objectives and Content

The purpose of the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship is to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels. Electrochemical research has already informed the development and improvement of innovative batteries, electrocatalysts, photovoltaics and fuel cells.

Through this fellowship, ECS and TRINA hope to see more innovative and unconventional technologies borne from electrochemical research.

The fellowship will be awarded to a minimum of one candidate annually. Winners will receive a restricted grant of no less than $50,000 to conduct the research outlined in their proposal within one year. Winners will also receive a one-year complimentary ECS membership as well as the opportunity to present and/or publish their research with ECS.

Meet previous winners.

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toyota-collage

From left to right: Elizabeth Biddinger, City College of New York; Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Joshua Snyder, Drexel University

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive a minimum of $50,000 each for fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Elizabeth Biddinger, City College of New York; Professor Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Professor Joshua Snyder, Drexel University.

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, a partnership between The Electrochemical Society and Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), is in its second year. A diverse applicant pool of more than 100 young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology responded to ECS’s request for proposals.

“Scientists and engineers seek to unveil what is possible and to exploit that knowledge to provide solutions to the myriad of problems facing our world,” says ECS Executive Director Roque Calvo. “We are proud to have the continued support of Toyota in this never ending endeavor to uncover new frontiers and face new challenges.”

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship aims to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels.

Global development of industry and technology in the 20th century increased production of vehicles and the growing population have resulted in massive consumption of fossil fuels. Today, the automotive industry faces three challenges regarding environmental and energy issues:

(1) Finding a viable alternative energy source as a replacement for oil
(2) Reducing CO2 emissions
(3) Preventing air pollution

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Solutions for Storing Green Energy

Research into alternative sources of energy, such as solar and wind, are constantly growing and evolving. The science behind photovoltaics is improving constantly and wind turbines are producing more electrical energy than ever before. However, the question still stands of how we store and deliver this electrical energy to the grid. A few ECS members from Harvard University believe their new flow battery could answer that question.


Building off earlier research, the new and improve flow battery could offer a great solution for the reliability issue of energy sources such as wind and solar based on weather patterns. The batteries could store large amounts of electrical energy that can delivered to commercial and residential establishments even when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.

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Making Solar Wallpaper

Design freedom improves the range of applications of the panels on the surfaces of interior and exterior building spaces.Image: Antti Veijola

Design freedom improves the range of applications of the panels on the surfaces of interior and exterior building spaces.
Image: Antti Veijola

We’ve been talking about climate change and green energy for a while now, so of course we think solar panels should exist wherever light is. Now, that could mean using solar wallpaper to harvest as much energy as possible.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed and utilized a mass production method based on printing technologies that will allow the manufacturing of decorative, organic solar panels for use on the surfaces of interior and exterior building spaces.

The new organic photovoltaic panels are only 0.2 mm thick each and include the electrodes and polymer layers where the light is collected.

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Electrochemistry Lights the Super Bowl

University of Phoenix Stadium

Site of Super Bowl XLIX

After the football teams and fans have left the stadium, after the television crews have wrapped up their interviews for the night, the stadium remains a-glow. This is the first time ever that a Super Bowl stadium has shone so brightly and with such an eye toward the environment.

According to takepart.com,

Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks marks the first Super Bowl illuminated by LED lights, which boast an estimated 75 percent reduction in power and nearly double the glow of traditional metal halides—like the ones previously installed at the Phoenix, Arizona, stadium when it was built in 2006.

The stadium’s new set of 312 LED fixtures only need about 310,000 watts of power, compared with the 1.24 million watts of power required by the 780 metal halide bulbs.”

With this massive change over from traditional bulbs to LED lights, stadiums like the one in Phoenix and other around the country will have made significant strides toward green energy and hopefully LEED certification.

To learn more about LED lighting, check out our Digital Library.

Toyota is looking to propel the future of the fuel cell vehicle with the recent announcement that they will be granting royalty-free use to thousands of their patents.

“I’m happy and extremely proud to announce to you today that Toyota will grant royalty-free use of all 5,680 of our fuel cell patents, including pending patents,” said Senior Vice President of Toyota’s Automotive Operations, Bob Carter, on January 5 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The patents are to be used by companies manufacturing and selling fuel cell vehicles. Carter stated that these patents – which are critical to the development and production of fuel cells vehicles – will be available through 2020.

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Member Spotlight – Telpriore “Greg” Tucker

Tucker, a six year ECS member, aims to develop future transportation that is sustainable and fun to use.Credit: Arizona State University

Tucker aims to develop transportation that is sustainable and fun to use.
Credit: Arizona State University

Hard-work and perseverance have paid off for The Electrochemical Society’s Telpriore “Greg” Tucker. From chemist, to mentor, to entrepreneur—the Arizona State University doctoral graduate aims to make an impact in renewable energy and transportation.

With his new degree in hand, Tucker plans to revisit his business plans for The Southwest Battery Bike Company, which focuses on developing electric bicycles that can provide a more affordable and greener source of transportation.

“I’ve always had an interest in transportation and how to make it more affordable and sustainable for the public,” Tucker says. “Since my degree focuses on batteries for renewable energy purposes, I began to see a lot of applications from my research. Some of the best jobs can spring from your hobby or projects that you enjoy doing.”

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Solar Tech to Enable First Underground Park

The Lowline is not just a design project. It’s not just an example of innovative technology. It’s not just an effort to revitalize a community. The Lowline is an example of how science and drive can improve and transform the landscape of modern cities.

If you haven’t yet heard of Lowline, it will essentially be an underground park powered by innovative solar technology located in the 116-year-old abandoned Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The technology is designed by James Ramsay of Raad Studio, who looks to overcome subterranean limitations with his underground oasis of plants and trees.

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