Monthly Archives: September 2017

Korey Cook

Korey started at MSUBI early in 2017.  He is a man of many talents and interests.  He was the  lone engineer in the lab this summer and managed to create a working redox flow battery prototype system.  Outside of our lab, he came very close to installing a working river turbine in the Grand River and got engaged to his girlfriend this summer.

Research and Development of a Highly Efficient and Cost Effective Redox Flow Battery; Korey Cook, Dr. Tom Guarr, Shane Mann and Brian Chiou

Renewable energy generation technology is growing rapidly and increasingly relies on energy storage systems to balance fluctuating energy demand.  The high manufacturing cost and limited life cycle of current commercial battery technologies inhibits large-scale grid storage.  This research project focused on creating an organic redox flow battery prototype that demonstrates significantly lower manufacturing cost and minimal electrolyte degradation to increase total charge cycles.  The developed prototype system includes electrolyte tanks, pumps, and a reactor that continuously and evenly distributes electrolyte solutions across an ion exchange membrane.  This battery system demonstrates a flow battery that can be scaled for long-term energy storage.

Korey is a Mechanical Engineer from Hope College, class of 2016.  This fall, he will continue to work with us, and he will begin his MS in Engineering program at Michigan State University with Tom Guarr and Andre Benard as his advisors.  We are very excited to watch him continue his work developing new-generation redox flow batteries.

Anthony Porath

Anthony is an undergraduate at Alma College.  He is a Chemistry major with emphasis in Organic Synthesis.

Synthesis of Tri-functional Pyridinium Compounds for Electrochemical Applications; Anthony Porath, Dr. Thomas Guarr

Quaternary salts of tri-functional pyridinium compounds could offer small, multi-electron organic components to be used in electrochemical processes. Not many organic molecules of this type are in common use. The methyl and hydrogen substituted versions have been successfully prepared utilizing Suzuki coupling. The phenyl substituted variety is in progress using a pyrylium intermediate. Future work will involve inserting a p-phenylene bridge between the pyridine and the central ring, and working on hexa-functional pyridinium complexes.

Anthony worked very hard in our lab this summer.  He has a bright future ahead.  He will graduate from Alma College next spring and move on to great things.  Remember to keep in touch and let us know what your future holds.

Rachel Beltman

A graduate of University of Detroit Mercy, with a degree in Biochemistry, Rachel synthesized many compounds for us this summer.

Extended Bispyridines: an Approach to Molecular Wires; Rachel Beltman and Dr. Thomas Guarr

Recently, redox flow batteries (RFBs) have been intensively researched for grid-level energy storage applications. In addition to offering an inexpensive option for long term storage, this technology also provides a means to achieve the load leveling required to effectively utilize renewable sources of energy. Bispyridinium compounds are of interest in RFBs because they offer reasonable voltages, good stability, and relatively high energy densities. We have developed a series of extended bispyridinium systems that incorporate p-phenylene (or longer) bridges can also be used as anolyte materials.

The extension of the π system in such compounds allows for an increase in cell voltage, along with a corresponding improvement in energy density. Stability is also improved because the ability to accept two electrons and achieve a stable, closed shell reduced state helps to avoid the buildup of less stable radical intermediates. In this study, the effects of substituent choice and bridge length on cell potential, molecular weight, durability, and ease of synthesis are explored.

Rachel has proven herself to be quite talented at organic synthesis, and she is continuing her studies at Wayne State this fall to pursue a doctorate in Organic Chemistry.  We appreciate all of your contributions this summer, Rachel.  Enjoy your time at Wayne State.

Anna-Catharina Wilhelm

Anna-Catharina came to the OESL with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Michigan Technological University.  She spent time this summer pinning down the degradation pathways of some of our redox shuttle compounds.

Fragmentation Analysis of Labeled Phenothiazines via Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry; Anna-Catharina Wilhelm and Thomas F. Guarr

The incorporation of organic compounds that display reversible electrochemical oxidation at very high potentials into lithium batteries has been shown to prevent dangerous overcharge conditions.  In order to better understand possible degradation pathways of such compounds (typically called “redox shuttles”), their breakdown was examined by mass spectrometry.  Previous studies of shuttle stability have been limited to empirical testing, modeling, or very limited analysis of reaction products.  In this project, ion trap mass spectrometry was used to explore the sequential fragmentation of several deuterium labeled compounds that are good candidates for such applications.  Using this approach, it was possible to selectively isolate and fragment both the oxidized (cation radical) and protonated forms of the parent compound.  Careful analysis of the data clearly shows that these two species break down by different mechanisms.  The results will aid in the design of more durable second-generation redox shuttles.

Anna-Catharina is beginning her PhD pursuit at the University of British Columbia this fall.  Best wishes for your future Anna!  Keep on running and enjoy our neighbor to the north.