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USU professor works to improve battery efficiency for applications

Tianbiao “Leo” Liu has been interested in battery chemistry for years.

“Battery chemistry is pretty practical — you find battery applications everywhere,” said Liu, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Utah State University. “I think we have become like a heart for society.”

With the idea that battery chemistry can be used to improve daily life, Liu and his colleagues set out to study neutral aqueous organic redox flow batteries, known as AORFBs, to see if they could make them more efficient.

The studies Liu headed up were made possible by a Utah Science Technology and Research grant. The findings were published into two journals, “Chem” and “Journals of Material Chemistry A.”

The premise of Liu’s study was that AORFBs stood out as promising technology for energy storage, and finding ways to improve such batteries’ energy efficiency and power density is critical meet demand for large-scale energy applications, according to an abstract in “Journals of Material Chemistry A.”

To see how such efficiency could be obtained, Liu and his team used two strategies to improve the connectivity to make the battery more energy efficient and powerful.

The implementation of the two strategies “make our batteries even more attractive for practical applications,” Liu said.

Those applications include batteries for solar storage units or batteries used to charge electric vehicles.

In Cache Valley, both of these applications have been utilized by investors.

A few years ago, Gardner Energy, of Ogden, was the installer chosen for the Cache Solar Discount Program.

That program let residents put solar arrays on their homes for a negotiated discount rate.

At USU, a university spin-out company made strides in charging those vehicles through wireless power transfer and has a test track for electric vehicles at the USU Innovation Campus in North Logan.

Liu said he wants industries such as solar, electric vehicles and utilities to pay attention to his research.

“We have addressed many questions so far; we have been in the field for about 10 years,” he said. “Right now, I think we have something very promising for market adoption.”

Originally published in The Herald Journal

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