Don't Resist! USU Chemists Advance Emerging Battery Technology
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017
In the foreground, USU doctoral student Camden DeBruler, right, and USU Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty member Tianbiao Liu are investigating aqueous organic redox flow batteries, an improved alternative to existing fuel cells.
USU Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty member Tianbiao Liu, with his students and colleagues, publishes new findings in top chemistry journals.
Among the challenges of meeting energy demands of evolving portable devices, electric vehicles and alternative energy storage is developing a high-energy density and high-power density battery technology alternative to existing options.
“Battery storage of environmentally friendly energy resources such as solar and wind present challenges because of unstable grid energy, heavy cycling that requires frequent charging and discharging, as well as irregular, full recharging,” says Utah State University chemist Tianbiao (Leo) Liu. “For this reason, we need new battery technologies.”
Liu and his students report results of a systematic study of neutral aqueous organic redox flow batteries, known as AORFBs, and the importance of minimizing battery resistance with this technology to advance its potential for sustainable and green energy storage of renewable energy. Liu, assistant professor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, along with doctoral students Bo Hu and Camden DeBruler and Intech Collegiate High School student Christopher Seefeldt, report their findings in the cover feature of the Nov. 14, 2017, online edition of Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
Liu, with DeBruler, Hu, USU graduate students Jared Moss and Xuan Liu, USU postdoctoral researcher Jian Luo and USU faculty member Yujie Sun, reports additional findings in the Nov. 22, 2017, online edition of Chem.
The team’s research is supported by USU and a Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) Initiative University Technology Acceleration Grant (UTAG).
“The ion exchange membrane and the supporting electrolyte are two fundamental materials that control charge transfer inside a redox flow battery,” Liu says. “Those two materials therefore have significant impacts on the energy efficiency and power density of the batteries.”
The team’s flow battery, electrochemistry and spectroscopy tests revealed optimal membrane and optimal supporting electrolyte for AORFBs are the thinnest DSV membrane with the lowest area resistance and potassium chloride (KCl), respectively.
“This combination produced the best fuel cell performance in terms of energy efficiency, capacity utilization and power density,” Liu says.