Two researchers from Cornell University recently put forward research describing their development of an aluminum-based electrochemical cell that has the potential to capture carbon emissions while simultaneously generating electricity.

Globally, carbon dioxide is the number one contributor to harmful greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions accelerate climate change, leading to such devastating effects as rising sea levels that can dislocate families and radical local climates that hurt food production levels.

(MORE: Read past meeting abstracts by co-author of the research, Lynden A. Archer, for free.)

While there have been efforts to reduce the amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere, the current levels are still far too high. Because of this, some researchers – including the duo from Cornell – have turned their attention to capturing carbon.


hallAn article by Theodore R. Beck in the Summer 2014 issue of Interface.

A simultaneous invention of an important industrial electrochemical process by two men on two different continents appears improbable. Yet that is what happened. One was in the United States and the other in France. Each inventor was born in the same year, 1863, and at age 22 each independently developed the same technology to produce aluminum by electrolysis. They were rather different personalities.

Charles Martin Hall was born into an educated family and attended Oberlin College. He was a studious scientist who deliberately, step by step, arrived at his process. The father of Paul Louis Toussaint Héroult was a tanner and Paul Héroult was expected to continue in that business. Instead, he attended a school of mines where he was dismissed after the first year because he spent his time thinking about how to produce aluminum rather than his studies. He was more of an intuitive thinker, and on inspiration, first electrolyzed alumina in molten cryolite in his father’s tannery.

heroultThe technology of these two inventors is now known as the Hall-Héroult Process. Hall and Héroult were among the earliest members of ECS, then named “The American Electrochemical Society.”

Charles Martin Hall was born on December 6, 1863 in Thompson, Ohio. His parents were Herman Bassett Hall and Sophronia H. Brooks. His father graduated from Oberlin College in 1847 and studied for three years at the Oberlin Theological Seminary. After ten years doing missionary work the family returned to Ohio in 1860 and to Oberlin in 1873.

Read the rest.

Aluminum Battery to Outpace Li-ion (Video)

A team of Stanford University researchers have developed a high-performance aluminum battery.Image: YouTube/Stanford University

A research team from Standford University has developed a high-performance aluminum battery.
Image: YouTube/Stanford University

Researchers have been attempting to make a commercially viable aluminum-ion battery for years. Now, a team from Stanford University may have developed just the thing to outpace widely used lithium-ion and alkaline batteries.

The new aluminum-ion battery demonstrates high performance, a fast charging time, long-lasting cycles, and is of low cost to produce.

“We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames,” said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford.

The researchers were able to achieve this novel battery by applying graphite as the cathode material.


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.