ERC Starting Grant 2020

ELECTRODE — Exploring the Limits of Mass Transport in Electro-Chemical Energy Converters Through Unconstrained Design and Interface Engineering

A promising option to store and transport clean energy are electrochemical fuels that can be converted to electricity on demand. Fuel cells, electrolytes and flow batteries used for this conversion have advantages over batteries as storage capacity is cell size independent. Yet, despite their high energy density achievable with such devices, their power density is still limited and inferior compared to batteries. Reactant and product transport set the maximum current density obtainable, determined by the interplay between multiphase and opposing vapor and liquid flow. To understand and extend this limit, a better way of controlling the transport of reactants and products within electrodes is necessary. The electrode design is key, yet current architectures provide limited control over feature sizes, length scales and geometrical complexity, making the study of transport mechanisms tedious and controlled experiments difficult. We follow a radically new way of studying mass transport in electrodes via the direct conversion of multiscale computer designs into physical glassy carbon electrodes with desired surface functionality. This is done through a photopolymer based AM process for tailored glassy carbon architectures with features ranging over multiple length scales. ELECTRODE will improve our understanding of mass transport and arrive at a new toolbox for designing electrode architectures that may generate knowledge for next generation energy conversion and storage.

Original and carbonized photopolymer structure (right and left, respectively)