Renewable energy solutions have been thrust to the forefront of issues pressing countries around the world. As of May 2009, 33 of the 50 United States have enacted renewable portfolio standards that must be achieved within the next 10-20 years. These goals will help alleviate some of the dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but it is only the beginning of the path to energy independence and sustainability. While the potential for supporting the grid by using a combination of renewable energy sources is high, some of the most popular, wind and solar, are intermittent at best in the frequency of energy production; the wind does not always blow, nor does the sun always shine. Such a variable nature requires balancing generation and consumption, and as of yet there is a major gap in terms of effective, affordable storage.
This research focuses on advancing the mechanical and electrochemical understanding of solid state, ionic liquid-based, gel polymer electrolytes for novel, printed energy storage. The interaction between successively printed materials is of great importance to producing fully functional electronics with small footprints on flexible substrates. Each printing process requires ink to have different material properties and produces layers with varied surface morphologies. Maintaining high electrical conductivity and thermal stability is paramount. Ionic liquids are typically thermally stable around 100 °C and can be excellent solvents. Presently, investigations are being conducted to quantify the electrochemical properties of the electrolyte as well as full cells as a result of the mass ratio between Zn ions dissolved from a salt (Zinc triflate) in the ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium triflate.
Advisors: Prof. Paul K. Wright, Prof. James Evans
Advanced Manufacturing for Energy Lab