Science Café Cleveland presents



Big Batteries For Powering Our Homes And Businesses


JUNE 11, 2018




Robert F. Savinell, Distinguished University Professor

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Case Western Reserve University


Batteries are very much in the news these days because of the increased numbers of electric vehicles on the roads, a trend that will only accelerate. But one of the most pressing issues in battery technology is not with cars but with the power grid and how to store energy generated at times when supply exceeds demand to use later when the reverse is true. The power grid needs to adjust immediately in response to the hourly, daily, and seasonal variations in demand, such as increased use of lights at night or the heavy use of air conditioners in the summer.

While the supply of electricity must always match demand at any time, turning power plants on and off, or up and down to do so is terribly inefficient.  And, in the case of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, nature controls when power can be produced by turbines and solar cells.  But big batteries can convert electric energy into a chemical form that can be stored, which can then be converted back into electricity when needed, somewhat like Amazon warehouses that store millions of products so that they are immediately available whenever a customer needs them.

In this talk Dr. Savinell will first address the challenges of using a conventional lithium-ion battery, like we have in our phones and computers, for very large storage systems. These batteries store electricity in very high energy density materials surrounded by combustible materials, which have the potential to explode and cause fires.  A safer and potentially lower cost battery being developed during the past decade is the “flow battery”, and at CWRU we are developing one such battery using just iron as the chemical to store the electricity.  He will describe how this battery converts electricity into dissolved iron salt in water which can then be stored in large tanks, and discuss its many features that make it promising for very large energy storage.


Tesla Switches on World's Biggest Lithium Ion Battery. Scientific American. December 1, 2017

Beating the Battery Barrier. New Scientist. September 20, 2017



If the discussion topic for this month's Science Cafe has the gears turning and you are interested in continuing your quest for information, click here for just a small sample of what's available at the Cleveland Public Library on the subject and/or related topics.




The Music Box Supper Club - Concert Hall

1148 Main Avenue

Cleveland, Ohio 44113



June 11, 2018

Doors will be open 5:30 - 9:00 PM (Last call at 8:45PM). Presentation and discussion is 7:00 - 8:00 PM. The Concert Hall will also host a limited menu before and during the event. Not to mention a full bar! (Click here to view menu). Come early, get a good seat, grab a bite and a beverage and enjoy the discussion!



Sponsored by Case Western Reserve University chapter of Sigma Xi, WCPN ideastream, and the Music Box Supper Club.


Event flyer - (.pdf)