ChBE Seminar Series: Polymer Electrolytes for Electrochemical Energy Storage & Conversion
Speaker: Paul A. Kohl, Regent's Professor & T.L. Gossage Chair, ChBE Dept., Georgia Institute of Technology
Title: Polymer Electrolytes for Electrochemical Energy Storage & Conversion
Electrochemical devices (e.g. fuel cells, lithium ion batteries, electrolyzers, and flow batteries) are becoming an important part of our energy infrastructure. Recent advances in these devices will be presented. Polymer electrolytes play an important role in fuel cells and possibly future batteries because they are relatively safe to use and form the basis for all solid-state devices without a liquid electrolyte. In fuel cells, acidic devices based on Nafion are the dominant technology, however, they are expensive and do not meet the mission lifetime. Changing the conductive ion from proton to hydroxide can potentially lower the cost, extend the lifetime, and create the opportunity for new types of devices. The pathway to creating stable, high pH, high conductivity membranes and polymers for electrodes is now clear. Recent work has shown that an all-hydrocarbon polymer backbone with long alkyl tether for the fixed cation is stable at pH14 and 80oC. Ion channel engineering is essential for high mobility (i.e. conductivity) conductive ions. Solid polymer electrolytes for lithium ion batteries could make them safer and significantly lower the cost, however, the polymer challenges are even greater than with fuel cells.
Paul Kohl received a Ph.D. from The University of Texas, in 1978. After graduation, Dr. Kohl was employed at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ from 1978 to 1989. In 1989, he joined the faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, where he is currently a Regents' Professor and holder of the Thomas L. Gossage Chair. Dr. Kohl's research interests include electrochemical devices for energy storage and conversion, new ion conducting polymers materials, and transient polymers for electronic and other devices. He has 320 journal publication, 67 US patents, and more than 400 conference presentations. Dr. Kohl is the past Editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and Electrochemical and Solid-State Letter, and past President of the Electrochemical Society (ECS). He has received the Carl Wagner (mid-career) Award from ECS, Gordon Moore Award in solid-state science, Callinan Award from ECS in Dielectric Science, and ACS Award in Polymer Science. He is a Fellow of AIChE and ECS.