The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded four researchers at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) a collective $2.5 million to investigate key barriers to next-generation energy storage and carbon reduction technologies. The award is part of the DOE’s Chemical and Materials Sciences to Advance Clean Energy Technologies and Low-Carbon Manufacturing funding opportunity.
Chong Liu, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor at Pritzker Molecular Engineering, will receive $1.5 million over three years for her multi-PI project titled “Electric field driven precision material synthesis.” The research, a collaborative effort involving Prof. Shirley Meng and Asst. Prof. Shuolong Yang of Pritzker Molecular Engineering, will investigate a new method control defect formation on ultrathin films, which have the potential to unlock new membrane materials for energy devices, including batteries, fuel cells, and electrolyzers.
Chibueze Amanchukwu, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Molecular Engineering, will receive $1.05 million to investigate dual-ion batteries. Such batteries are considered a promising candidate for long-duration grid storage because they are made from abundant raw materials and have high energy densities. Amanchukwu and his lab will work to understand the current shortcomings of dual-ion batteries, focusing on novel electrolyte design and mechanistic insights.
The Chemical and Materials Sciences to Advance Clean Energy Technologies and Low-Carbon Manufacturing funding opportunity, supported by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences within the DOE’s Office of Science, was created to fund fundamental research that could advance technologies related to efficient energy production and storage.
Both PME projects involve basic research underpinning aspects of the Energy Earthshots Initiative, particularly the Long Duration Storage Shot, whose goal is to reduce the cost and increase the duration of grid-scale energy storage. The DOE’s Energy Earthshots Initiatives set goals for significant improvements in clean energy technology.