Delivering sustainable solutions to current challenges in energy storage and conversion

27 Mar 2024
More productive
9 min read

Energy systems drive every aspect of our modern life, from cell phones to electric cars and even space travel. But to achieve energy that is clean, renewable and reliable, we need better batteries and fuel cells. If scientists could see inside energy storage and conversion systems while they operate, they could not only identify where changes are needed, but also develop new materials to enhance their performance. A unique collaboration in the US between University of Pittsburgh’s Kumta Lab and Malvern Panalytical is enabling researchers to do just that.

Dr. Prashant N. Kumta and his team aim to deliver improvements in two key areas:

  • Energy storage
    The lithium-sulfur battery is viewed as an attractive replacement for the rechargeable
    lithium-ion batteries currently used in applications such as electric vehicles, cell phones and laptops. Kumta Lab is targeting improvements to its safety, cost and efficiency.
  • Energy conversion
    The lab’s primary focus is water electrolysis and hydrogen fuel cells. These are clean,
    renewable and low carbon energy sources that could help to achieve Net Zero goals,
    but they are currently very costly.

Using data and insights drawn from Malvern Panalytical’s Empyrean X-ray diffraction technology, Dr. Kumta and his team are working towards achieving a series of ambitious goals: 

  1. 400% growth in the watt hours per kilogram a rechargeable battery delivers
  2. 300% increase in the miles an electric car can travel between charges
  3. 100% reduction in the volume of precious metals used in water electrolysis and hydrogen fuel cells
  4. 50% reduction in the price tag of an electric vehicle

“If we can create a battery pack system that can be charged or recharged on a continuous basis using wind and solar power – for example, a car that charges while you drive – we will eliminate the current reliance on carbon and fossil fuels almost entirely.” Dr. Prashant N. Kumta, University of Pittsburgh.