Energy Conversion and Storage

Solar panels at sunset

Batteries and fuel cells are the missing link between generation and distribution of renewable energy. Much of the world’s energy infrastructure is built around a system in which 95 percent of production is from oil, coal and natural gas. This energy is produced continuously, and feeds centralized power plants that deliver electricity on demand. Renewables like wind and solar—while plentiful and clean—are intermittent in nature. What’s missing is a way to capture the energy these renewable sources produce, hold it and then disperse it to consumers. And that’s not to say these technologies don’t exist: where science struggles is in developing safe, reliable and economically viable conversion and storage systems that can compete with—and beat—their fossil-fuel-driven counterparts.

As the world faces the impacts of climate change, advancing this technology has never been more important. Our researchers are at the leading edge of conversion and storage innovation. They’ve invented an iron-and-water-based flow battery that could deliver cleaner, cheaper power from renewables that’s garnered millions in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy. Chemical engineering researchers at Case Western Reserve are also leading a new DOE Energy Frontier Research Center—Breakthrough Electrolytes for Energy Storage (BEES)—dedicated to the development of entirely new electrolytes to provide large, long-lasting energy storage solutions for the power grid of the future.

Institutes, centers and labs related to Energy Conversion and Storage

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Energy Lab

Studies the fundamental electrochemical processes in ionic liquids, and designs nonflammable electrolytes for energy storage and conversion

Faculty who conduct research in Energy Conversion and Storage

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Rohan Akolkar

F. Alex Nason Chair and Ohio Eminent Scholar for Advanced Energy Research
Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering

Develops new electrochemical processes for applications including nano-material fabrication, energy storage, electrometallurgy and sensors

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Burcu Gurkan

Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

Designs, develops and investigates ionic liquid based electrochemical systems for energy, environmental sciences and sensors

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Julie Renner

Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

Works at the interface of protein engineering and electrochemistry to enable a new generation of advanced technologies

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Bob Savinell

George S. Dively Professor in Engineering
Distinguished University Professor
Professor, Chemical Engineering

Develops high-performance electrochemical energy conversion and storage technologies through fundamental and applied studies of interfacial and transport processes

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Jesse Wainright

Research Professor, Chemical Engineering

Develops novel electrochemical systems for grid-level energy conversion and storage