Dr. Jason Gillmore

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Jason Gillmore will be joining our group.  He is a Professor of Chemistry at Hope College.

From the Hope College website…

Jason Gillmore joined the faculty at Hope in July 2004. Tenured and promoted in 2010 and promoted again in 2016, Professor Gillmore has also been a Schaap Research Fellow since 2013. Professor Gillmore is on sabbatical for the 2018–19 acadmic year, dividing his time between his own laboratory at Hope College and the MSU Bioeconomy Institute and its Organic Energy Storage Lab.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Jason maintains a research group of three to six undergraduate students in the summer and throughout the academic year. His research interests include organic photochemistry and electrochemistry, photochromism, photoinduced charge transfer, photoresponsive materials, computation and heteroaromatic synthesis.

Dr. Gillmore will be taking his sabbatical with our group during the 2018/19 school year.  We are very pleased to have him join us and we look forward to his time and his contributions.

Lab Bench to Pilot Plant Workshop

Our summer program has begun with the excellent Lab Bench to Pilot Plant Workshop that our MSU plant staff present every year.  Two of our interns were able to participate this year…

This week we have kicked off the summer research portion of our program.  Bridget, Brittney and Nora have begun their research and Anthony will join us on June 4.  With everyone’s various schedules I am having a very hard time getting a group picture, but stay tuned!

Tom Guarr Selected for DOE Chain Reactions Innovations Program

Tom Guarr Selected for DOE Chain Reactions Innovations Program

Tom Guarr in lab

Future alternative energy success is highly dependent on the ability to store that energy once captured. Tom Guarr, co-founder of Jolt Energy Storage Technologies LLC, and researcher at the MSU Bioeconomy Institute in Holland, Michigan, is pioneering new technology for that purpose.

After applying for a new program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy last year, Guarr was notified in March 2018 that he has been selected through a national competition process to participate in the “Chain Reaction Innovations Program” at Argonne National Laboratory. This program will allow him to further extend his battery storage research and bring his licensed MSU technology to market.

Watch a quick video about Tom’s lab.

Recognizing that bringing important breakthroughs into the marketplace includes overcoming many technical and financial hurdles, the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) recently launched “Chain Reaction Innovations” (CRI) to help innovators obtain and refine the entrepreneurship skills needed to develop and commercialize advances in cleantech and manufacturing.

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) will administer this program for EERE.

Guarr stated, “I’m looking forward to continuing my research at Argonne and bringing back new capabilities and research opportunities to MSU.” He begins his work at Argonne this month.

The competition began in 2017, when the field of 83 applicants from entrepreneurs across the country was narrowed to 21 semifinalists through a process that included a technical evaluation and phone interview. The semifinalists then participated in a “Shark Tank” type of competition at ANL in January 2018, where the top 10 candidates where chosen for another round of competition.

Jolt Energy Storage Technologies, LLC, led by Guarr along with partner Jack Johnson, has licensed several pieces of intellectual property from MSU that relate to the use of organic compounds in batteries. The relevant technology was developed in the Organic Energy Storage Laboratory at the MSU Bioeconomy Institute.

The licensed technology focuses on additives to improve the safety and efficiency of lithium ion batteries (so a cell phone won’t overheat for instance). It offers the possibility of extending the same chemistry to make organic batteries that are inexpensive, efficient, and environmentally friendly. These devices are termed “redox flow batteries” and are aimed at large-scale energy storage applications. Because energy from renewable sources like wind and solar tends to be intermittent, reliable energy storage at the grid level is critically needed in order to provide smooth power output as an increasing amount of energy from such sources is brought online. With technology licensed from MSU, Jolt is developing storage systems that are safe, reliable, and inexpensive enough to make the overall economics attractive.

Lakeshore Advantage, a local non-profit economic development organization, has supported Jolt since their earliest stages of development. The organization assisted Jolt in securing funds through a Business Accelerator Fund grant, a resource available through the Holland SmartZone, to test their solution that improves safety, cost and performance in lithium ion batteries.

“Jolt’s success is a testament to their leadership, collaboration and thoughtful approach to solving an advanced energy storage problem and disrupting the industry along the way,” said Angela Huesman, Chief Operating Officer at Lakeshore Advantage, “We look forward to what’s next for this first MSU Bioeconomy spinout through the Argonne National Labs opportunity, with expectations that this experience will catapult Jolt to its next milestone.”

Read the full press release from Argonne National Lab.

Argonne selects innovators from across nation to grow startups…

Big news!!!  Dr. Tom Guarr has been awarded a spot in an elite national program at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory to grow startup technologies.  The Chain Reactions Innovation program at Argonne is a two year Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program which provides an institutional home for innovative postdoctoral researchers to build their research into products.


Congratulations Tom!  We look forward to seeing how your research and Jolt develops products that will improve our world.


Summer 2018 internship announcement

Spring is very slow to come here in Holland, MI.  The temps have been in the 30s and low 40s and we have had snow nine days out of the last eleven days.  Therefore, we are skipping spring and going directly to the summer announcements:

The following students have been confirmed Michigan State University Bioeconomy Institute Organic Energy Storage Laboratory interns for the summer of 2018:

Brittney Duford – Chemical Engineering student at Michigan Technological University

Bridget O’Connell – Chemical Engineering student at Michigan Technological University

Nora Shaheen – Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering graduate from Ohio State University

Also joining us this summer:

Anthony Porath – Graduate of Alma College and former 2017 summer intern

We are very excited about this summer!  There is big news coming out of this lab.  Stay tuned for the next update!

Summer Internship postions available for 2018

*** Please note:  All intern positions have been filled for summer 2018 ***

Look for a posting at your University or College job site.  If it is not posted there, please feel free to apply by providing:

  • Resume
  • Cover letter indicating area of research of greatest interest to you
  • Minimum of one reference
  • List of college level science courses you have completed

Email to Laura Ives at iveslaur@msu.edu

2017 Summer Program Success

Each summer we ask for anonymous feedback from our researchers.  Below are a few comments we received:

  • I loved the work environment here at MSUBI.  All the employees here were great and very helpful.  My favorite part was meeting new people and making some life long friendships.
  • The project was geared towards my general understanding experience and future use of skills.  It was definitely assigned in the direction of my interests.
  • Communication was on-going, so if changes needed to be made or difficulties with the project were present then adjustments were made.
  • The experience provided a valuable practice for graduate school lab practices.  Work was independent but help from those with more experience could be sought out.
  • I enjoyed my colleagues the most out of the internship.  They are all very intelligent and great for advice and seeking information.  The tours were also super interesting because I had never seen this type of chemistry application before.  I loved it.
  • Science takes time.  Reactions will run and fail, staying optimistic is the real skill to develop with the research because it does not go perfectly according to plan.
  • This was a great 10 week program.  I loved working here and will be very sad to leave.  Working here has been the best experience I have ever had.
  • I will be letting my department know about the program.

Suggestions for improvement?

  • Maybe go kayaking or mini golfing.

Great suggestion.  I like the way you think.

Thanks to all of our summer researchers.  Some great advances were made this summer and it was due to your hard work.  We are excited about the future applications of your research, and we are also very excited about your futures!  We had a great summer and I’m glad to hear from your comments that you did too.  Please keep in touch, you know where to find us…

Amber Dood and Nick Mortimer

Amber and Nick collaborated on a poster for presenting at the Schaap Symposium…

High Potential Organic Redox Shuttles for Overcharge Protection in Lithium Ion Batteries;  Amber J. Prins, Nicholas J. Mortimer and Thomas F. Guarr*

Lithium ion batteries are universally used today, but unsafe conditions can occur if expensive electronics are not used to prevent overcharging. These electronics can double the price of the battery pack, so it is important to find a more economical way to control charging. “Redox shuttles” are potential additives to batteries to shunt the excess current and allow the battery to be safely used to its full capacity. When overcharge current flows through a battery, the redox shuttle is oxidized to form the radical cation which diffuses across the cell and is reduced at the anode. This effectively turns overcharge current into thermal energy which can be readily controlled, thereby preventing battery degradation. Numerous organic compounds have been investigated as shuttle candidates, but finding materials that possess the following qualities proves challenging: 1) high oxidation potential (generally > 4.2 V vs. Li/Li +); 2) solubility in battery electrolytes; 3) compatibility with other electrolyte components; 4) high stability in both reduced and oxidized forms (leading to long cycle life).

This project is made possible in part by a grant from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland area, as well as through financial support from a Michigan Strategic Fund grant through Lakeshore Advantage to MSU.

Tom Guarr also presented similar posters at the 68th Annual International Society of Electrochemistry in Providence, RI on August 30 and at the 232nd Electrochemical Society meeting in National Harbor, MD on October 5, 2017.