Areas of Research

CWRU Success Stories in Storage

Flow Batteries

Bob Savinell and Jesse Wainwright, leaders of a team developing both aqueous and non-aqueous flow battery technology, are working on a battery to achieve <$250/kW.  This work is currently funded through multiple sources (NSF, ARPA-E, DOE and industry).  A recent award from ARPA-E focuses on decoupling power and energy of an aqueous iron flow battery, which itself builds on from a DOE Office of Electricity award that focuses on transformational improvement in the efficiency of the system. Their design – which enables greater energy storage capacity and greater power density – drives down cost and eliminates the problem of decreased battery capacity. These new batteries use inexpensive, plentiful, and environmentally friendly materials (iron), as well as are designed to improve the efficiency of the power grid through scalable storage systems at low cost. 


Titanium Based Capacitors

Gerhard Welsch’s work on titanium-based electrolytic capacitors was funded by a $2.25 million dollar ARPA-E grant with goals to show high energy density at several hundred operation voltage for use in implantable defibrillators, in DC-link capacitors for electric vehicles and in LED power conditioners. Welsch is patenting designs for small, light, powerful capacitors and overcoming limitations in series resistance (ESR) as well as enabling high power and high-frequency operation.  In addition, working to increase energy efficiency in the capacitors to over 99.9% and developing high-power batteries to reduce resistance of the active material by orders of magnitude. 

Capacitor Fabrication

Bob Savinell and John Miller work on the development and commercialization of advanced activated carbons for energy storage applications. They are developing carbon products that will meet the requirements of the ultracapacitor energy storage industry, as well as drive down the cost and increase the durability of ultracapacitor electrodes. The grant of $1.12 million that they received is being used to accelerate commercialization of electrochemical capacitors, which will go into applications needing reversible high power such as lift trucks, buses, and electric vehicles. 


Lithium Ion Safety

Dan Scherson and John Protasiewicz of the Chemistry Department at CWRU and Novolyte Technologies (now BASF), received more than $1 million  from the State of Ohio to develop and commercialize advanced electrolytes for next-generation lithium-ion batteries. This award serves to augment research supported by the BATT program of DOE in the area of flame retardant salts. Currently being carried out by these researchers, Lithium-ion batteries have the advantage of offering high energy and power densities, and improvements in their safety are key to expanding their use to other applications, particularly transportation.


Metal-Free Catalysts

Liming Dai’s research on the development of efficient carbon-based metal-free ORR catalysts is to improve fuel cell growth limited partially by the high cost and short supply of platinum – the catalyst used to promote the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) that generates power. Owing to their wide availability, environmental acceptability, corrosion resistance and unique surface and bulk properties, carbon nanomaterials are idea candidates to replace platinum as metal-free ORR catalysts.