IBM Research

An Argon-filled “glove box” in the IBM Research Battery Lab, which is used to prepare air-sensitive battery materials such as lithium metal anode and electrolyte formulations, both of which were used in this new battery design. Courtesy: IBM Research

By Young-Hye Na, Manager of Advanced Battery Research Program, IBM Research-Almaden, US

Our world has no shortage of problems to solve. We now stand at a critical juncture for global action to address our most pressing challenges; from the COVID pandemic to climate change and so much more.

IBM has long recognized the urgency to find more sustainable solutions to tackle these problems (The Urgency of Science). For the first time in history we have the right tools at our disposable to do so. AI (artificial intelligence)—combined with advanced computing and access to enormous volumes of data via a secure and open hybrid cloud—can significantly accelerate the process of scientific discovery and the creation of more sustainable materials for use across a broad range of industries, including energy and batteries. 

Better batteries for cleaner energy

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For months, Impact Canada has been working hard on narrowing down five finalists to work on the Charging the Future Challenge, a $4.5-million project aimed at accelerating made-in-Canada clean battery innovations with the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The five selected finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas for battery breakthroughs to a jury for a chance to win up to $700,000 each to develop battery prototypes over the course of 18-months, with the winner receiving a $1 million grand prize. (more…)

Calling All Battery Innovators!

Canada is looking for its next big battery breakthrough!

Charging the Future Challenge is a new $4.5-million project which aims to accelerate made-in-Canada battery innovation in order to build a clean energy future and provide economic growth within Canada.
The 18-month challenge will offer five finalists the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a jury for a chance to win up to $700,000 each to develop battery prototypes, with the winner receiving a $1 million grand prize.

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Marshall Medoff shares his work with Lesley Stahl. Photo Credit: 60 Minutes

Marshall Medoff will make you think twice about what is possible. The 81-year-old took an interest in the environment 25 years ago and decided he was going to take it upon himself to stop global warming. With no science background or financial support, Medoff took it upon himself to “save the world.” For more than a decade, he worked alone out of a garage at a storage facility, educating himself and working towards his goal; his solution, transform inedible plant life into environmentally friendly transportation fuels in a clean, cost-effective alternative.

“Cellulose is everywhere. I mean, there’s just so much cellulose in the world and nobody had managed to use any of it,” explained Medoff, as he chatted with correspondent Lesley Stahl on 60 minutes. “I said, ‘Wow, if I can break through this, we can increase the resources of the world maybe by a third or more.’ Who knows?” (more…)

Every four years since 1987, scientists and engineers have been gathering in Honolulu, HI for the Pacific Rim Meeting on Electrochemical and Solid State Science, better known as PRiME. ECS has been committed to holding PRiME in Hawaii since its establishment to provide a central location for researchers from around the world, from the U.S. to Japan, to gather and discuss that latest scientific developments.

Because of his extensive experience in organizing PRiME and various other meetings across Latin American and Europe, ECS Executive Director Roque Calvo was invited to speak at the East Meets West Spring Education Tour, which is a meeting of executive directors, CEOs, and meeting planners, both of nonprofit and for profit companies, to discuss holding international conferences.

Hawaii’s talk show, Think Tech, reached out to Calvo during his most recent trip to Hawaii for the East Meets West Spring Education Tour to discuss electrochemistry, the clean energy movement, and open science. Watch the interview below.

When we think of carbon and the environment, our minds often develop a negative association between the two in light of things such as greenhouse gases and climate change. But what if carbon is the answer to clean energy?

A team of researchers at Griffith University is looking toward carbon to lead the way in the clean energy revolution. Their latest research showed that carbon could be used to produce hydrogen from water. This could offer a potential replacement for the costly platinum materials currently used.

“Hydrogen production through an electrochemical process is at the heart of key renewable energy technologies including water splitting and hydrogen fuel cells,” says Professor Xiangdong Yao, leader of the research group. “We have now developed this carbon-based catalyst, which only contains a very small amount of nickel and can completely replace the platinum for efficient and cost-effective hydrogen production from water.”

(MORE: Learn about the future of electrochemical energy.)

This from Griffith University:

Proponents of a hydrogen economy advocate hydrogen as a potential fuel for motive power including cars and boats and on-board auxiliary power, stationary power generation (e.g., for the energy needs of buildings), and as an energy storage medium (e.g., for interconversion from excess electric power generated off-peak).

Read the full article.

The researchers also believe that these findings could open the door for new development in large-scale water electrolysis.

Leading Clean Energy Innovation

nrel-logoRecently, I had the opportunity to visit the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for an alumni meeting of the Executive Energy Leadership Academy (Energy Execs), a program that empowers executives to integrate clean energy solutions in their own communities.

Since its inception, more than 200 representatives of industry, government and non-profit organizations have completed the Energy Execs program, delivered through the Executive Energy Leadership Academy. In 2014, I participated in the abbreviated program which offers decision-makers a look at renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. As part of the experience, we received briefings by NREL technology experts, research laboratory tours and visits to renewable energy installations.

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open_access“Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” This is pulled from a public policy statement originally written in 2004 by the American Chemical Society.

Eighteen scientific societies signed on to a similar American Association for the Advancement of Science statement affirming the consensus scientific view on climate change in 2009. According to the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, at least 200 worldwide scientific organizations now formally hold the position that climate change has been caused by human action.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up in 1988 to assess global warming and its impacts. Recently, the panel released a major report, capping its latest assessment, a mega-review of 30,000 climate change studies that establishes with 95-percent certainty that nearly all warming seen since the 1950s is due to human activity. More than 700 of the world’s top climate scientists and 1,729 expert reviewers from more than 70 countries participated in the report process.

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A Revolution in Renewable Energy

Towering like a beacon of hope in Germany’s North Sea stand wind turbines. Stretching as high as 60-story buildings and standing as far as 60 miles from the mainland, the turbines are part of Germany’s push to find a solution to global warming.

Some call it change. Some call it transformation. We call it a revolution.

According to an article in the The New York Times, it is expected that by the end of the year, scores of new turbines will be set in place – thus allowing low-emission electricity to be sent to German cities hundreds of miles south.

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Climate Case for Open Access

This weekend I watched the recently released short film, Disruption, which is available online for free viewing. In less than one-hour, the scientists, authors and activists featured in the film highlight some truly frightening data and trends. As those who believe in the vast majority of the science already understand, we must do more to limit greenhouse gas emissions if we want any chance of keeping global temperature change below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels.

Thankfully, the conversion to a clean energy economy is already feasible, both economically and technologically. Countries like Germany have been demonstrating the possibilities of renewable energy, despite having sunshine similar to that of Alaska. We also know the scientists of ECS are currently working on even more exciting research to improve our understanding and technological capabilities in photovoltaics, nanotechnology and fuel cells, among other cutting-edge fields.

In my view, the bold pledge to move toward open access at ECS has serious implications for action on climate change. If we can make the scientific research results and latest findings more widely accessible, we may speed up the scientific discovery process. Perhaps a young scientist in the developing world will unlock the key to some perplexing scientific dilemma, once we’ve made the latest findings more freely available in an ECS journal. Many of us believe we can accelerate the pace of innovation, and help solve critical challenges by opening access to scientific research. You can support those efforts by donating to the ECS Publications Endowment.

PeoplesClimate.orgIn the meantime, I plan to attend the Peoples Climate March on Sunday, September 21. There is an entire staging area for scientists, among the various  1,500 other groups, including students, environmentalists, labor unions, and community activists. Together, we’ll be demanding action on climate change, just two days before President Obama and other world leaders are set to attend a Climate Summit at the United Nations hosted by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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