May 11, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – An interdisciplinary team of University of Michigan investigators will explore performance enhancements for the redox flow battery, an emerging energy storage technology that offers solutions to such challenges as integrating intermittent renewable energies (wind, solar) onto the power grid.
The work is supported by a new grant through the U-M Energy Institute’s Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies (PISET). The project, “Chromium Coordination Complexes for Non-Aqueous Redox Flow Batteries” represents the third round of PISET funding, which supports the appointment of an UMEI research fellow for each competitively selected team. The winning teams’ research must bridge traditional disciplines to offer a better understanding of sustainable energy science, technology, or policy.
Co-PIs on the “Chromium Coordination” project include:
- Levi Thompson, The Richard E. Balzhiser Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering;
- Melanie Sanford, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Moses Gomberg Collegiate Professor of Chemistry in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts;
- Alice Sleightholme, Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering
The potential for redox flow batteries rests in their flexible design options, simplified heat management, power capacity, safety, minimal impact on the environment, and potential low cost. Unlike traditional batteries, which store chemical energy in solid electrodes, redox flow batteries store electricity chemically via an electrolyte solution that is pumped from external chambers through a reactor to generate electricity. They offer lower storage costs than traditional batteries with lower rates of self-discharge.
The latest PISET project aims to design, synthesize and characterize new chromium-based complexes that would improve the performance of non-aqueous redox flow batteries, which do not rely on water as a solvent. Non-aqueous systems allow for higher energy storage and for operation in a wider temperature range than their water-based counterparts.
The “Chromium Coordination” researchers comprise the sixth team supported through the PISET program. Previously funded projects include:
- Investigators from the University of Michigan SMART program, a project of U-M Transportation Research Institute and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, who examine how physical and informational connectivity, including access to real-time, integrated information on multi-modal transportation (car and car-share, taxi, rail, bus, bike, ferries, etc.) affects consumers’ travel choices and energy consumption. The study will examine barriers to the use of sustainable transportation, including the inconvenience associated with lack of connectivity and service predictability. The study will also explore the development of integrative, cost-effective technologies including mobile Internet systems to address use issues. The research team includes Principal Investigators David Chock and Richard Gonzalez, project lead Susan Zielinski and Peter Sweatman as a key advisor;
- Researchers from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts’ (LSA) Department of Chemistry and the College of Engineering’s Chemical Engineering Department who are exploring production of E. coli bacteria strains that can convert renewable biomass sources into next generation biofuels that have properties closer to gasoline and diesel than today’s ethanol or vegetable oil-based biodiesel fuels. Principal Investigators Neil Marsh and Xiaoxia (Nina) Lin lead this basic science and engineering collaboration;
- Scientists from the College of Pharmacy’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry and LSA’s Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology Department are investigate the potential of converting fatty acids into hydrocarbons for liquid biofuel production. The work builds on metabolic engineering technology developed in Principal Investigator David Sherman’s lab. Sherman and his co-PI, Anuj Kumar, will initially deploy this technology in yeast cells and eventually into algae strains as the means for creating biodiesel and biojet fuel. Sherman and Kumar each operate labs within the Life Sciences Institute, which also supports this PISET;
▪ Assistant Professor of Chemistry Bart M. Bartlett and Assistant Professor/Materials Science and Engineering Anton Van der Ven, who are exploring production of more efficient cathodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, an innovation of particular interest for the automotive industry;
▪ Assistant Research Scientist in Chemistry Antek G. Wong-Foy, Assistant Professor /Computer Science and Engineering Michael J. Cafarella and Assistant Professor /Mechanical Engineering Donald J. Siegel, who ware combining their expertise in computational materials chemistry, data mining, and chemical synthesis to develop a model of cyber-discovery for application to CO2 capture materials for reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Contact: Paul Gargaro, University of Michigan Energy Institute, 734-615-5678, firstname.lastname@example.org.