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Next Generation Batteries for Electric Transportation and Stationary Energy Storage

Event Type
Mechanical Science and Engineering
4100 Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building
Mar 29, 2022   4:00 pm  
Dr. Yan Yao, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Texas Center for Superconductivity, University of Houston
Amy Rumsey
Originating Calendar
MechSE Seminars


Batteries are the key to a sustainable energy future. Accelerated global transition to electric vehicles and increasing penetration of renewable energy for the grid require cheaper, safer batteries with higher energy density made of resource abundant materials. In this talk, I will focus on two battery chemistries: all-solid-state batteries for electric vehicles and magnesium batteries for the grid. First, I will present the key challenges in solid-state batteries and our solution to overcome them. I will provide an overview of Li-organic solid-state batteries, analyze the performance-limiting factors, and present cell design guidelines leading to 500 Wh kg−1 cell-level specific energy. I will also present an in-situ test platform developed to connect structural, chemical, and mechanical characterizations for understanding the cell degradation pathways in solid-state batteries. In the second half of my talk, I will discuss our recent efforts in high-power Mg batteries. Mg batteries have long been regarded as a low-cost safe solution for the grid. However, Mg2+ interacts strongly with electrolyte solutions and cathode materials, leading to sluggish ion dissociation and diffusion, and consequently low power. We demonstrated a fast-charging Mg-battery with a heterogeneous enolization redox chemistry, enabled by new understanding of electrolyte-electrode interactions and their determining effect on the charge storage mechanism.

About the Speaker

Dr. Yan Yao is the Cullen Professor of Engineering at the University of Houston. He received his Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from UCLA and conducted postdoc research at Stanford University. He joined the University of Houston in 2012 as an Assistant Professor, promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2017, and Full Professor in 2020. Dr. Yao’s research focuses on scientific and technological gaps in battery landscape unmet by today’s Li-ion batteries, including inexpensive earth-abundant domestic supply chain with a diverse set of novel materials and chemistries, and understanding battery failure mechanisms through operando characterizations. He served as an expert reviewer for the DOE Battery Hub and Office of Electricity Energy Storage Program. His research group has been funded by federal agencies (DOE, ARPA-E, NSF, ONR) and industry with over $12M. He has authored more than 120 papers in Nature Energy, Nature Mater. etc. with over 28,000 total citations, 10 granted US patents, and delivered 140 keynote and invited talks. He received several awards for his research, including the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Analytics, Scialog Fellow, and Cullen College of Engineering Professorship. Yao is a Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry, a Senior Member of National Academy of Inventors and IEEE. He co-founded two spin-offs from his research.

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