284061 Mechanics of Electrochemical Energy Storage Materials

Sunday, October 28, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Vijay Sethuraman, School of Engineering, Brown University, Providence, RI

Recently, much emphasis has been placed on reducing the use of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases. To address these two interrelated issues, newer governmental regulations demand a sequential increase in energy-efficiency standards from auto manufacturers over the next two decades. Electrochemical energy-storage and energy-conversion have been identified as critical enabling technologies by the National Academies for meeting such regulatory demands. For example, automakers have already begun manufacturing hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries in an effort to address such regulatory demands to increase the overall fuel-efficiency standards. However, the state-of-the-art energy-storage devices used in hybrid (e.g., Toyota Prius), plug-in hybrid-electric (e.g., Chevrolet Volt) and electric (e.g.,Nissan Leaf) vehicles do not meet the durability and performance requirements at a cost comparable to conventional vehicles. Furthermore, the widespread use of such electrochemical devices expected in the near future, especially in the automotive industry, requires the training of students in fundamental as well as applied aspects of electrochemistry.

In light of these requirements, my current research program concentrates on functional materials and characterization techniques for electrochemical energy-storage and energy-conversion devices (e.g.,batteries, super-capacitors, and fuel cells) with an emphasis on understanding failure mechanisms. My interest in this area stems from my graduate and postdoctoral work on electrode components for lithium-ion batteries and polymer electrolyte fuel cells. I will continue to study electrochemical energy-storage and energy-conversion because this area has vast societal and economic importance and also presents compelling scientific and engineering challenges.

My current and past research efforts focus on understanding the properties (with importance to performance and failure characteristics) of electrochemical energy-conversion and energy-storage materials – e.g., materials used in batteries and fuel cells. My approach towards understanding a candidate material consists of (1) extracting thermodynamic, kinetic and transport parameters, as well as mechanical properties by performing relevant experimentation, (2) testing theoretical predictions using the estimated parameters, (3) bridging material properties to practical performance, (4) obtaining insights for material-synthesis as well as system-evaluation efforts, and finally (5) quantifying the ability of a candidate chemistry to meet its performance goals set by the US Department of Energy. A central theme of my research program is to apply the engineering insights gained from this approach to the development of high-performance, low-cost and durable lithium-ion batteries and high-temperature fuel cells. My overarching research goal is to develop a comprehensive set of research tools and expertise to enable the engineering of high-performance materials for energy applications.

For recent publications, please visit http://www.nanopolitan.com

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