Robert F. Savinell is a Distinguished University Professor and the George S. Dively Professor of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining the university’s faculty in 1986, Savinell was a research engineer at Diamond Shamrock Corporation and then a member of the faculty of the University of Akron. Savinell was the director of the Ernest B. Yeager Center for Electrochemical Sciences at CWRU for ten years, and served as Dean of Engineering at CWRU for seven years. He has been a visiting professor at Yamanashi University in Japan, Denmark Technical University and MIT. Savinell has been engaged in electrochemical engineering research and development for more than 40 years.
Savinell’s research is directed at fundamental science and mechanistic issues of electrochemical processes, as well as electrochemical technology systems and device design, development, modeling and optimization. His research has addressed applications for energy conversion, energy storage, sensing, and electrochemical materials extraction and synthesis. Savinell is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society. He is a fellow of the Electrochemical Society, fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and fellow of the International Society of Electrochemistry. In 2018 he was awarded the Department of Energy’s Emerging Frontiers Research Center grant, and he now directs the EFRC on Breakthrough Electrolytes on Energy Storage (BEES). In 2020, Savinell was awarded the Frank and Dorothy Humel Prize by CWRU for exceptional achievements in teaching, research and scholarly service that have benefited the community, the nation and the world. In 2022, the Electrochemical Society presented Savinell with the Vittorio De Nora Award.
The overarching goals of my research program are to create electrochemical solutions to energy conversion, energy conservation, and energy storage challenges, including related environmental challenges of significance to industry and society, and to improve performance of electrochemical technologies in practice. My research focuses on understanding the thermodynamic, kinetic, and transport processes at electrochemical interfaces and within electrochemical systems through experimental and simulation approaches. The scope of my research program spans fundamental investigations through translational research towards commercial application. On-going projects include the following:
- Designing novel electrode structures to increase the plating capacity for hybrid flow batteries.
- Understanding conductivity and transport properties of slurry electrodes and the design factors for applications in flow batteries, flow electrochemical capacitors, and flow capacitance separation devices.
- Exploring new chemistries, electrolytes and materials for flow batteries and electrochemical capacitors.
- Developing tools and analysis to study performance issues in electrochemical devices, and to measure fundamental transport and kinetic properties of materials under realistic operating conditions.
- Investigations leading to the understanding of proton conductivity and stability limits of high temperature polymer electrolytes such as the water-less PBI/phosphoric acid system
- Bourke, A., Miller, M.A., Lynch, R.P., Gao, X., Landon, J., Wainright, J.S., Savinell, R.F., and D.N. Buckley, “Electrode Kinetics of Vanadium Flow Batteries: Contrasting Responses of VII-VIII and VIV-VV to Electrochemical Pretreatment of Carbon”, J. Electrochemical Society, 163(1), A5097-A5105 (2016).
- Petek, T.J., Hoyt, N.C., Savinell, R.F. and J.S. Wainright, “Characterization of Slurry Electrodes Using Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy”, Journal of Electrochemical Society, 163(1), A5001-A5009 (2016).
- Hoyt, Nathan C., Hawthorne, Krista L., Savinell, R.F. and J.S. Wainright, , “Plating utilization of carbon felt in a hybrid flow battery”, Journal of Electrochemical Society, 163(1), A5041-A5048, (2016).
- Petek, T.J., Hoyt, N.C., Savinell, R.F. and J.S. Wainright, “Slurry Electrodes for Iron Plating in an All-Iron Flow Battery”, Journal of Power Sources, 294, 620-626 (2015).
- Bourke, A., Miller, M.A., Lynch, R.P., Wainright, J.S., Savinell, R.F., and D.N. Buckley, “Effect of cathodic and anodic treatments of glassy carbon on the electrode kinetics of VIV/VV oxidation-reduction”, Journal of Electrochemical Society, 162(8), A1547-A1555 (2015).
- Hoyt, Nathaniel C., Wainright, Jesse S., and Robert F. Savinell, “Current Density Scaling in Electrochemical Flow Capacitors”, Journal Electrochemical Society, 162(8), A1547-A1555 (2015).
- Ke, Xinyou, Alexander, Iwan D., Prahl, Joseph M. and Robert F. Savinell, “A simple analytical model of coupled single flow channel over porous electrode in vanadium redox flow battery with serpentine flow channel”, Journal of Power Sources, 288, 303-312 (2015).
- Hoyt, Nathaniel C., Wainright, Jesse S., and Robert F. Savinell, “Mathematical modeling of electrochemical flow capacitors”, Journal of Electrochemical Society, 162 (4), A652-A657 (2015).
- Suttil, J.A., Kucharyson, J.F., Escalante-Garcia, I.L., Cabrera, P.J., James, B.R., Savinell, R.F., Sanford, M.S., and L.T. Thompson, “Metal Acetylacetonate Complexes for High Energy Density Non-Aqueous Redox Flow Batteries”, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 3(15), 7929-7938, (2015).
- Escalante-Garcia, I.L., Wainright, J.S., Thompson, L.T. and R.F. Savinell, “Performance of a non-aqueous vanadium acetylacetonate prototype redox flow battery: Examination of separators and capacity decay”, J. Electrochem. Soc., 162(3), A363-A372 (2015).
- Hawthorne, K.L., Petek, T.J., Miller, M.A., Wainright, J.S. and R.F. Savinell, “An investigation into factors affecting the iron plating reaction for an all-iron flow battery”, J. Elecrochem. Society162 (1), A108-A113 (2015).
- Hawthorne, K.L., Wainright, J.S. and R.F. Savinell, “Studies of iron-ligand complexes for an all-iron flow battery application”, J. Electrochem. Soc., 161(10), A1662-A1671 (2014)
- Hawthorne, K.L., Wainright, J.S. and R.F. Savinell, ”Maximizing plating density and efficiency for a negative deposition reaction in a flow battery”, J. Power Sources, 269, 216-224 (2014).
- Aili, D., Savinell, R.F., Jensen, J.O., Cleemann, L.N., Bjerrum, N.J. and Q.F. Li, “The electrochemical behavior of phosphoric-acid doped poly(benzimicazole) membranes”, Chemelectrochem, 1 (9), 1471-1475 (2014).
- Ke, Xinhyou, Alexander, J. Iwan, and R.F. Savinell, “Flow distribution and maximum current density studies in redox flow batteries with single passage of the serpentine flow channel” , Journal of Power Sources, 270, 646-657 (2014).
- Escalante-Garcia, I., Wainright, J.S., and R.F. Savinell, “Cu Monolayer on Au/C and Pt/C for the Electrochemical Reduction of CO2 to Hydrocarbons”, Electrochemical Society Transactions, 50(49), 95-101 (2013).