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Major Federal Grant Powers SBU, BNL Battery Program

Dry heat: SUNY Distinguished Professor Esther Takeuchi (left) and Brookhaven National Laboratory Associate Scientist David Brock in the BNL Interdisciplinary Science Building's tightly controlled "dry lab."

Source: InnovateLI

One of Stony Brook University’s newer scientific institutes – focused on the future of electric vehicles – has been supercharged by a major U.S. Department of Energy grant.

The university’s Institute for Electrochemically Stored Energy, which opened in 2020 inside SBU’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, has received a $2.2 million grant from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Office of Renewable Energy/Vehicles Technology. The hefty award is part of a nationwide $60 million stipend the DOE issued this week in support of 24 university- and industry-led projects, focused on new battery technologies, new mobility systems, vehicle “lightweighting” and other staples of EV development.

Funneled through the Research Foundation for the State University of New York, the three-year IESE grant will fund research led by SUNY Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science and Chemical Engineering Esther Takeuchi, who also chairs Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Interdisciplinary Science Department.

Esther Takeuchi: Battery powered.

The work – which will involve researchers from SBU, BNL and Rhode Island-based Brown University – focuses on the development of new electrolytes that will “enable batteries to operate over wide temperatures, charge fast and cycle effectively,” Takeuchi said in a statement.

Electrolytes are substances that produce an electricity-conducting solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. By developing electrolytes under what SBU termed “extreme conditions” – and observing them using “unique tools available at each respective institution” – the researchers will look to characterize the new electrolytes’ ion mobility and stability.

That will facilitate tests of the electrochemical functionality of new EV batteries through a range of different environmental conditions – a key component of the DOE’s larger $60 million effort, which aims to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from passenger cars and both light- and heavy-duty commercial trucks.

Noting that “fossil fuel-powered cars and trucks are a leading cause of air pollution and carbon emissions,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said “decarbonizing the transportation sector” is key to meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Partnering with industry and leading research universities, DOE’s investment in these 24 projects will create technologies and techniques that will cut vehicle greenhouse emissions and boost America’s competitiveness in the global clean-energy market,” Granholm said in a statement.

With the shiny new IESE and other SBU-based, clean energy-focused facilities at the ready, Long Island scientists are ready to do their part, according to BNL Associate Director Jim Misewich, who heads up the DOE-funded laboratory’s Energy and Photon Sciences Directorate.

“Brookhaven National Laboratory is making significant contributions to initiatives related to clean energy,” Misewich said Tuesday. “This is also an outstanding example of collaboration where Brookhaven National Lab scientists will be interacting closely with faculty and young investigators from Stony Brook University and Brown University.

“We are delighted to participate in this opportunity.”