Research Seminar: Rational Design Strategies for Redox Flow Batteries

January 26, 2023 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Bertrand NeyhouseBertrand Neyhouse
PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract: Global decarbonization of the energy sector necessitates development of storage technologies to mediate the inherent intermittency of renewable resources. Electrochemical systems are well-positioned to support this transition with redox flow batteries (RFBs) emerging as a promising grid-scale platform, as their unique architecture offers decoupled energy / power scaling, simplified manufacturing, and long service life. Despite these favorable characteristics, current embodiments remain prohibitively expensive for broad adoption, motivating the development of new electrolyte formulations (e.g., redox molecules, supporting salts, solvents) and reactor materials (e.g., electrodes, membranes) to meet performance and cost targets for emerging applications. While many next-generation materials offer performance improvements, they must carefully balance complex tradeoffs between power / energy density, cycling stability, energy efficiency, and capital costs. This multifaceted parameter space frustrates the articulation of unambiguous design criteria, as the relationships between constituent material properties and cell performance metrics are not yet well-understood. To this end, my research establishes rational design strategies for RFBs to enable robust, cost-competitive, and durable grid-scale energy storage.

In this talk, I will first introduce a modeling framework for describing cell cycling behavior in RFBs, building on thermodynamic, kinetic, and transport descriptions for electrochemical processes. Using this generalized set of constitutive equations, I will discuss analytical solutions for the coupled mass balances, enabling facile simulation of charge / discharge behavior and device performance metrics. I will then describe the development of new experimental methodologies that facilitate characterization of constituent materials under conditions that more closely resemble those observed in practical embodiments. Broadly, the methods developed in this work have the potential to advance foundational understanding in RFB design and operation, leading to more rigorous selection criteria for candidate materials.

Bio: Bertrand is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and Martin Fellow for Sustainability pursuing his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at MIT. His research in the Brushett Group centers on the design of redox flow batteries, applying chemical and electrochemical engineering principles to better understand design tradeoffs for constituent materials. He is also the Editor-in-Chief for the MIT Science Policy Review and a fellow in the ChemE Communication Lab. Prior to graduate school, Bertrand received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Ohio University. He is passionate about educating the next generation of chemical engineers and developing electrochemical technologies to address modern sustainability challenges.

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