Keeping Up With the Increasing Demands For Electrical Energy Storage and Conversion:
Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Materials For Energy
Jeff Sakamoto, Michigan State University
Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department
The interest in vehicle electrification and electrical grid storage is unprecedented. Several automotive manufacturers are producing or planning to produce hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fully or battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Lithium-ion battery technology is the current leading candidate to meet the near and medium-term needs for electric vehicles. However, while significant progress has been made in the last decade, widespread adoption of electric vehicles will likely require a revolutionary advance in energy technologies.
Combining computational materials design and complex material research is a powerful approach to discover new materials that push the frontiers of energy storage/conversion technology. This presentation discusses joint predictive theory and experimental efforts to design, synthesize, characterize, and evaluate complex materials for energy technologies. The approach starts with materials science to confine the class or group of salient materials. Computation refines and predicts a range of chemical formulations and atomic arrangements that give rise to interesting physical and electrical properties. Lastly, chemistry and/or materials chemistry are combined to synthesize materials, followed by property assessment and characterization in a relevant environment. Typically, the above process is iterated and supplemented with complimentary, often collaborative, aspects to enhance the discovery process. The discussion will emphasize experimental aspects, but include some computational work, to include recently discovered ceramic electrolytes for electrochemical energy storage and thermoelectric materials for waste-heat energy conversion. Although specific examples are described, I believe the joint theoretical and experimental approach can be effectively applied to a wide variety of materials and related applications.