The University of Utah
Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah

Special USTAR Seminar

Vic Liu
General Motors Global R&D

Monday November 19, 2012
1230 WEB

Title: Probing the Local Chemical Physics of Fuel Cell & Battery Materials to Understand Some of the Technical Challenges Facing Fuel Cell- & Battery-Powered Electric Vehicles


To address environmental and resource-limitation constraints, mainstream automobile companies are striving to put more and more electric vehicles (powered by either hydrogen fuel cells or lithium-ion batteries ) on roads in the coming years. Meanwhile, academia and industry research labs are working hard to find alternative high-performing durable materials to make fuel cell and battery technologies costcompetitive with their fossil fuel-based internal combustion analogs. In this presentation, I will briefly outline a part of my research at General Motors related to the hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries by reviewing a few representative examples. They are: carbon corrosion, Pt-alloy catalyst development, manganese dissolution, and solid-electrolyte interphase characterization. In these examples, my efforts were to probe the local chemical physics by using state-of-the-art techniques including microscopy, spectroscopy, and three-dimensional tomography. The obtained local information was then connected with the history of the materials in an analyzed system and the system’s overall electrochemical properties. Through these examples, I will show the importance in understanding the local structure and chemistry of materials and their practical relevance to the performance and durability of the fuel cell and battery operating systems. This is because the understanding developed this way will allow us to solve the performance and durability issues at the materials level or develop mitigation strategies at the system and operation levels.

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