Three new kinds of battery that just might change the world (feat. Battery Lab Manager Greg Less)
So, it’s time to ask again: Why aren’t we all driving around in oxygen-powered cars? Well, the chemical reaction that produces energy in these batteries also happens to come with a considerable drawback. As it interacts with the oxygen, the aluminum degrades over time. It’s a type of battery called a “primary” cell, which means current only flows one way, from the anode to the cathode. That means they can’t be recharged. Instead, the batteries have to be swapped out and recycled after running down.
This week, technicians at the University of Michigan Battery Lab installed the facility's prismatic cell winder. The machine places punched anode and cathode coupons between layers of separator film in a precision process to create a battery similar to what you might find in your cellphone, tablet, or laptop computer. Also, it looks awesome.
Trucks rolled in to the Energy Institute BattLab last week, delivering pilot line electrode preparation equipment, including the coater, electro-densification press, and a slitter. The BattLab’s dry room construction is complete save for air handling equipment, and glove boxes have arrived.
North campus just got a little bit safer. On January 27-29, energy storage and lithium battery safety training seminars were held at the Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility for those doing energy storage research or using the facility. Dedicated in Fall 2013 and currently nearing completion, the facility, dubbed the Battlab, is a space developed in cooperation with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Ford Motor Company.
Electricity for rainforest villages in Gabon. Tent fabric that harvests solar energy for nomadic people in Kazakhstan. A modular greenhouse and fish farm in an unused industrial building in Highland Park, Michigan.
These are some of the goals and possibilities a team of 17 researchers will pursue with a new $3 million Third Century Initiative Global Challenges grant from the University of Michigan.
Nathaniel Szymczak, the Dow Corning Assistant Professor of Chemistry and an Energy Institute Faculty Affiliate, was named a 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation research fellow, along with two other U-M scientists. The award comes with a $50,000 research boost.
At the Energy Institute Symposium, a great selection of University of Michigan graduate student showcased their work in the Energy Institute’s thrust areas, including carbon-free energy sources; energy storage and utilization; transportation and fuels; and energy policy, economics and societal impact. A special thanks to all the students that submitted nearly 50 posters highlighting the depth and breadth of energy research at the University of Michigan. After much deliberation, the winning posters from the the Energy Institute Symposium were chosen: