The Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanism B Program (CSDMB) of the Chemistry Division supports this project by Professors Christopher J. Ziegler and Aliaksei Boika. Professors Ziegler and Boika are faculty members in the Department of Chemistry at The University of Akron. Professors Ziegler and Boika are working to develop new compounds for use in improving the performance of redox flow batteries (RFBs). Redox flow batteries can potentially serve as a scalable solution for storing the energy derived from renewable sources such as wind and sunlight. The batteries use the energy to make a charged species at each electrode. These charged species are then flowed into a holding cells where they are stored. When the energy is needed again, the charged species are flowed back into the cell and the battery run in the opposite direction giving back all of the energy initially used to make the charges. Key to this approach is the stability charged species that are stored and the reversibility of their formation. To date, the chemical compounds used for this purpose have not been ideal and lack many of the characteristics needed for a RFB to be practical. Professors Ziegler and Boika are approaching this problem using a compound called ferrocene as a building block; ferrocene has been known for more than half of a century and has optimal properties for a redox flow battery. The charges species are very stable, and their formation is perfectly reversible. By designing new materials incorporating multiple equivalents of this building block, the Ziegler and Boika research groups hope to advance development in scalable RFB technology. This research will additionally provide excellent training for future scientists, and will provide education opportunities for underrepresented groups in chemistry. Their work will also include outreach activities involving K-12 students as part of the funded project.

Redox flow batteries (RFB) remain highly desirable targets for scalable energy storage, but the chemistry used in these devices can be improved significantly. The redox chemistry used in these cells suffers from low open circuit potentials, undesired side reactions, and caustic reaction conditions. Ferrocene, in many ways an ideal redox reagent, will be investigated by the Ziegler and Boika groups as a functional structural component in four types of RFB candidates: monoferrocenyl compounds, polyferrocenyl compounds, "all metallocene" single component materials, and ferrocene-based ionic liquids. The Ziegler lab has elucidated new sulfonyl based ferrocene chemistry which can be used as the linking moiety in the syntheses of these new materials. Both the Ziegler and Boika labs will fully characterize all new RFB candidates and evaluate their performances using electrochemical methods. The broader educational impacts of the proposed activity include the training of graduate students at The University of Akron, supporting the collaborative activities of the PI, and the promotion of underrepresented groups in chemistry, specifically through the ACS Project SEED, as synergistic activities. The PIs are developing an outreach program for K-12 students focusing on energy storage from renewable resources and how chemistry can assist with this central problem.

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Division of Chemistry (CHE)
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Tingyu Li
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University of Akron
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