Clarkson University professors win $570,000 Department of Energy grant to tap potential of high power sodium batteries
Friday, November 17, 2017 - 6:02 am

POTSDAM – Clarkson University chemical and biomolecular engineering professor David Mitlin and assistant professor Eunsu Paek received a highly competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

The money will be used to perform research on high energy-high power battery materials that use sodium instead of lithium. The $570,000 grant will fund a combined effort to understand the basics of charge storage in pseudographitic carbons.

What would happen if cars went all electric and there were 10 or 20 more new “gigafactories” built in the next decade? Or what if lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) went into widespread use for subway trains, buses, heavy trucks and solar energy power plants?

These transformative changes could slow down global warming, reduce urban pollution, and lead to thousands of new jobs. However, the demand for the batteries could outpace the supply, driving prices up, Clarkson said in a press release.

Sodium ion batteries (NIBs) are rapidly becoming recognized as a viable alternative to LIBs. Since sodium is much cheaper and nearly universally abundant, sodium batteries are especially attractive for large-scale use.

Mitlin, who is recognized as the inventor of pseudographitic carbons for sodium applications, will work directly with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He will employ neutrons to understand the key aspects of high rate charge storage in such systems.

Paek, who is recognized for her important work in simulation of sodium and lithium ions at high rates, will lead the modeling effort. She will employ state-of-the-art supercomputers to examine ion–carbon interactions.