Professors awarded money for research on safer batteries

USC chemistry professor Jahan Dawlaty, University of Houston professor Yan Yao and SUNY Binghampton University professor Puja Goyal, received a $100,000 Scialog Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement to explore the behavior of protons.

They have proposed a safer battery model that relies on both non-flammable and aqueous electrolytes using an acid-based electrolyte and a plant-based anode.

Improving the safety of batteries is a necessary part of the global development of renewable energy and electric-powered transportation, according to the RCSA.

The most common batteries used today depend on flammable, non-aqueous electrolytes, according to a press release from the RCSA.

Additionally, Brent Melot, USC assistant professor in the department of chemistry, and Louis Piper, a professor at Binghampton University, received the same award to improve battery performance and study redox activity, the process through which molecules gain or lose electrons, or anions.

RCSA is a private institution that helps fund research in the physical sciences independently proposed by professors at U.S. universities and colleges. The Scialog Award is specialized to support research and building dialogue in the science community.

“Ultimately, Scialog aims to advance human knowledge by empowering a national community of early career scientists with many promising years of research ahead of them,” the RCSA website says. “Through the give-and-take of community building, it is the Foundation’s hope that Scialog Fellows grow better equipped to tackle ever more challenging multidisciplinary problems.”

RCSA Senior Program Director Richard Wiener said that funding high-risk research may not always produce worthy results, but when it does, it benefits the scientific and general community greatly.

“Scialog is an experiment in accelerating the pace of breakthrough scientific discoveries,” Wiener said in a press release about Piper and Melot’s award. “Creative researchers like Yao, Dawlaty and Goyal represent the world’s best hope for a brighter tomorrow. RCSA is proud to support them.”