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Battery to the future

When he was a kid, Mehmet Ates would take the dead bat­teries from his family’s appli­ances and crack them open with rocks in the back yard. “I wanted to figure out how they worked,” he said. The stan­dard nickel-​​metal hydride bat­teries, how­ever left the future chemist dis­ap­pointed: once opened, they revealed nothing but a fine black powder.

Matthew Trahan never split open bat­teries, but he did have a strong appre­ci­a­tion for the out­doors and his envi­ron­ment. As a chem­istry stu­dent in Mis­souri he real­ized he wanted to change society by improving the tech­nolo­gies essen­tial to the devel­op­ment of elec­tric vehicles. Today, Ates and Trahan, both grad­uate stu­dents in the same lab, are working with research pro­fessor K. M. Abraham to develop the next gen­er­a­tion of energy effi­cient lithium bat­teries. One of Ates’ child­hood bat­teries would have to be five to 20 times larger in order to store the same amount of energy as one of the teams’ exper­i­mental bat­teries, which are being devel­oped with funding through the Center for High Rate Nanoman­u­fac­turing, he explained.
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