On Thursday 29th October, we held the kick-off meeting of our Newton Fund Institutional Links project with the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, from Colombia. The project will explore the use of bacterial nanocellulose grown from Colombian biomass waste to produce materials for energy storage technologies, including Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors, and will support three early career researchers. The meeting was a success and can’t wait to do lots of great since together.
On Thursday 15th October 2020, it was officially announced that Ana has been awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship! The FLF will start in February 2021 for a duration of 4 years in the first instance, with possibility of extension for further 3 years. Ana is very happy for this achievement and grateful to the UKRI and FLF scheme for this opportunity. Her research programme will focus on the design of sustainable electrodes for advanced flow batteries.
Congratulations to Qian and the rest of the team involved in this work. Great stuff Qian and very well done!
Another online Group Meeting held this Thursday 17th September 2020. Good to catch up with everyone’s projects.
Fantastic online meeting today with colleagues at the National Battery Research Institute (NBRI) and the Minister of Research and Technology of Indonesia, who gave an insightful talk about Indonesian energy storage landscape and the UK-Indonesia joint activities. Glad to be part of the NBRI expert panel. Looking forward to many projects together.
Congratulations to Pavel, who passed his 30-month viva today, 14th September 2020. Well done Pavel!
Congratulations to Linh, who passed her 30-month viva on the 10th Sept 2020. Well done Linh!
Yesterday, we had the first group meeting since Ana’s maternity leave ended, with short update presentations from all members of the group! Great stuff!
Ana has been awarded a Newton Fund Institutional Links grant (ID 527320452) to conduct a project in collaboration with Colombia (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana) and the team of Dr. Cristina Castro on Bacterial Nanocellulose for Energy Applications. Looking forward to starting this exciting project. Check out the abstract below!
Colombia is one of the world’s “megadiverse” countries, hosting close to 10% of the planet’s biodiversity. Therefore, bioeconomy is a field with a large potential for economic activities, mainly driven from new discoveries in the biological sciences. The last National Development Plan (PND, 2017) identified an economic growth strategy where biological resources and residual biomass must be managed in an efficient and renewable way to generate new products, processes and services with added value, as new levers for development. Our project aims to reuse the leftover of the fique natural fiber production (juice) from local producers (AGAVE S.A.S) in Antioquia, where close to 100 farmers of fique fibers sell this raw material at a price of $150 COP/kg for the production of sacks and cord. It is worth mentioning that only 4% of the fique plant is used for the extraction of fibers, leaving the remaining as waste. We will use the fique juice as a culture medium for the Komagataeibacter Medellinensis bacteria for the synthesis of bacterial nanocellulose, which will be further activated for energy storage applications, including lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors. With this project, we will support local farmers, who will benefit from selling their agricultural waste to biomass companies, providing farmers a new source of income. The proposed collaboration involves Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Two research groups at UPB will join efforts for this project: new materials (GINUMA), energy and thermodynamics (GET). From QMUL, Dr. Jorge and Dr. Szilagyi will bring their experience in the application of biomass-derived materials as alternative energy compounds for storage and conversion. The knowledge of the UPB-QMUL team guarantees the project will be a success. We hope this institutional link fund will help us launch this collaboration further, including the development of an exchange program between institutions.
Ana has been awarded a Royal Society Grant (RGS\R1\201283) to develop 3D Printed Electrodes for Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies! Below the abstract of her project.
Sustainable energy production at an acceptable cost is key for its widespread application. At present, noble metals and metal oxides are the most widely used for electrocatalysis, but they suffer from low selectivity, poor durability and scarcity. The search for new materials and structures that use non noble metals is of paramount importance. 3D printing has received increasing attention in recent years, due to its flexibility and ability to design electrodes, which can incorporate electrocatalytic functional materials. This method enabled excellent control and tuneability of geometries and sizes at the micrometre scales while maintaining the characteristic advantages of their components. Another advantage of 3D printing technologies has to do with the ability to produce single parts consisting of multiple materials, even with printed gradients, which leads to highly tailored materials. However, the application of 3D printed electrodes in electrocatalysis is relatively new, only gaining momentum in the last years. Here I propose to use 3D printing to explore new electrode composites consisting of nanostructured graphene / transition metal electrocatalytic species for application in energy storage and conversion technologies. This research will lead to the development of a variety of electroactive composites, with different geometries and microstructures, and high electrocatalytic performance for batteries, fuel cells and water electrolyser systems. This research has the potential to truly transform the field of electrode design and expand the use of 3D printing techniques for the processing of new electrocatalytic architectures.