Toyota Fellowships Come Full Circle

Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez

Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez presenting his work at the Toyota Research Institute of North America in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In 2014, ECS and Toyota Research Institute of North America came together to establish the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship to support young researchers working in green energy technology. The partnership between ECS and Toyota aims to leverage the Society’s network of researchers, awarding fellowship winners a minimum of $50,000 to pursue novel research over a one year period.

“We try to give folks the opportunity to do research that is a little more outside of the box,” said Paul Fanson, manager of Toyota’s North American Research Strategy Office, “where they might have difficulty getting funding somewhere else.”

As this year winds down and the 2016-2017 fellows come to the tail end of the research period, fellowship winners Elizabeth Biddinger, City College of New York; Joaquin Rodriguez Lopez, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Joshua Snyder, Drexel University recently took their work to Toyota’s site in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to report their findings, connect with industry researchers, and explore opportunities that extend beyond the funding time period.

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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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ToyotaThe ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship kicked off in 2014, establishing a partnership between The Electrochemical Society and Toyota Research Institute of North America, aimed at funding young scholars pursuing innovative research in green energy technology.

The proposal deadline for the year’s fellowship is Jan. 31, 2017. Apply now!

While you put together your proposals, check out what Patrick Cappillino, one of the fellowship’s inaugural winners, says about his experience with the fellowship and the opportunities it presented.


The Electrochemical Society: Your proposed topic for the ECS Young Investigator Toyota Fellowship was “Mushroom-derived Natural Products as Flow Battery Electrolytes.” What inspired that work?

Patrick Cappillino: This research was inspired by a conversation with a colleague. I was relating the problem of redox instability in flow battery electrolytes. He told me his doctoral work had focused on an interesting molecule called Amavadin, produced by mushrooms, that was extremely stable and easy to make. The lightbulb really went off when we noticed that the starting material was the decomposition product of another flow battery electrolyte that has problems with instability.

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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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Reutilizing carbon dioxide to produce clean burning fuels

Carbon dioxide

David Go has always seen himself as something of a black sheep when it comes to his scientific research approach, and his recent work in developing clean alternative fuels from carbon dioxide is no exception.

In 2015, Go and his research team at the University of Notre Dame were awarded a $50,000 grant to purse innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology through the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship. With a goal of aiding scientists in advancing alternative energies, the fellowship aims to empower young researchers in creating next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels that can lead to climate change action in transportation.

The road less traveled

While advancing research in electric vehicles and fuel cells tend to be the top research areas in sustainable transportation, Go and his team is opting to go down the road less traveled through a new approach to green chemistry: plasma electrochemistry.

(MORE: Read Go’s Meeting Abstract on this topic, entitled “Electrochemical Reduction of CO2(aq) By Solvated Electrons at a Plasma-Liquid Interface.”)

“Our approach to electrochemistry is completely a-typical,” Go, associate professor at the University of Notre Dame, says. “We use a technique called plasma electrochemistry with the aim of processing carbon dioxide – a pollutant – back into more useful products, such as clean-burning fuels.”

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After Toyota’s 2015 release of the first mass-market fuel cell car, the Japanese automaker is gearing up to release the second generation of its fuel cell vehicle in 2019.

The initial version of the Mirai, which was heralded by Toyota as the ultimate “green car,” could travel up to 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen and refuel in less than five minutes. The starting price for the vehicle is currently $57,460.

Toyota’s new version of the Mirai promises to be more affordable than its predecessor, potentially making the clean energy vehicle well-received among consumers.

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Uphill Battle for Electric Cars

With plunging oil prices, it is proving to be more difficult than ever to entice buyers into purchasing an electric vehicle. While the low oil prices may be good for consumers’ gas tanks, the transportation sector continues to account for 27 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The question then arises of how electric car manufacturers can steer folks back toward electric vehicles and away from gas-guzzling cars?

(MORE: Read Interface: PV, EV, and Your Home)

Impact of falling oil prices

“It definitely makes the transition to sustainable energy more difficult,” said Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, at a business conference in Hong Kong about the impact of the free-falling oil prices.

Tesla rose to prominence in 2003 when oil prices soared, making electric vehicles all the more tempting. With oil prices continually on the decline, it’s now up to companies like Tesla to compel buyers and stress the importance of transitioning toward cleaner vehicles.

New features for electric cars

For companies like Tesla, that means developing things like autonomous cars with “summon” features – allowing the user to call their car just like a pet. Even aesthetic aspects have become more important, with Tesla focusing on futuristic designs.

“What we’re aspiring to do is to make the cars so compelling that even with lower gas prices, it’s still the car you want to buy,” Musk said.

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ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship

ecs_toyota

The Electrochemical Society with Toyota North America
2016-2017 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship
for Projects in Green Energy Technology

Proposal Submission Deadline: January 21, 2016

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 last year’s winners.

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Toyota Rolls out New Vehicle

Toyota has just unveiled the prototype of their 3-wheel i-ROAD urban mobility vehicle at the TED Conference in Vancouver.

Those who experienced the vehicle described it as a cross between a zip scooter and an eco-friendly electric car. Toyota is describing this electric two-seater as a “personal mobility vehicle.” The company used the TED Conference as their launching platform for to gauge how the attendees see the future of mobility.

However, the i-ROAD is not designed to be your primary highway-driving vehicle. John Schultz of Toyota Motor Sales USA states that the vehicle would be most effective for every day short trips, such as running errands and grocery shopping.

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