The 2022 Electrochemistry Northwest meeting, hosted by the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy (SIRE), University of Liverpool, took place on Thursday 14th July. It was funded by the RSC Applied Materials Chemistry Group.
Due to the pandemic restrictions of the previous couple of years, this was the first iteration of the Electrochemistry Northwest meeting series since 2019. Glad for the opportunity to once again meet our colleagues in person, the meeting brought together over 70 delegates including PhD students, early career researchers, academics, as well as some colleagues from industry. Like for the previous meetings in this series, those in attendance primarily hailed from electrochemistry groups across the Northwest, from Lancaster, Manchester, and Liverpool.
The day kicked off with refreshments and a morning full of interesting and thoughtful talks chaired by Professor Laurence Hardwick. Dr Nuria Garcia-Araez, from the University of Southampton, started this session as the invited speaker and gave a great in-depth and eye-opening plenary talk about ‘Fundamental Developments of Next Generation of Batteries and Lithium Production Methods’. Dr Garcia-Araez discussed a wide breadth of research areas, from advanced characterisation techniques, novel materials for beyond Li-ion batteries, and electrochemical methods for producing lithium sources from Li-rich brines like those found in South America.
Following the plenary talk, the morning session continued with 4 presentations delivered by early-career researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University and Lancaster University. Firstly, Cristiane Kalinke (MMU) gave a talk on electrochemical sensors for disease diagnosis prepared by additive manufacturing techniques. Michael Mercer (Lancaster) then discussed the understanding and application of entropy measurements for Li-ion and Na-ion battery characterisation. Thomas (MMU) then delivered a presentation on the oxygen evolution reactions in PEM water electrolysers that was awarded the best talk prize for the early career research session. The morning session then finished off with a talk given by Daniel Smith (Lancaster) on proton shuttling in protic ionic liquids.
During lunch, the poster session, which featured over 20 posters, was in full swing. There were many discussions challenging the minds of each poster presenter, in addition to sharing ideas and knowledge. Samuel Robertshaw (Lancaster) was awarded the 1st prize for best poster for his work titled ‘CO2-dimensional electrocatalysis: are MXenes the answer?’, while Hardwick group member, Rory Powell, took 2nd prize for his poster entitled ‘Atomic Layer vs. sol-gel deposited coatings for long cycle-life Li-ion cathodes’. The exhibitors Alvatek, BioLogic Science Instruments, Cellerate, Hiden Analytical, and Metrohm put on excellent displays of their products and services as well as providing sponsorship and prizes for the day and assisted in judging the poster session.
In the afternoon, Dr Alex Neale chaired the second talks session where invited speaker Dr Kathryn Toghill (Lancaster University) gave an insightful talk into ‘The challenge of electrocatalytic CO2 reduction’. The remaining talks for the afternoon session were delivered by PhD students from Lancaster, University of Liverpool (UoL) and University of Manchester (UoM). Therein, Hardwick Group member Julia Fernandez-Vidal (UoL) gave a talk on ‘Investigating the presence of adsorbed species on Pt steps at low potentials’, winning her the best talk prize in the PhD session and free registration and a talk slot at the upcoming national electrochemistry conference held in Edinburgh this year (RSC Electrochem 2022).
Alexandra Jones (UoM) then followed by giving a presentation on the voltammetry of quinones for redox flow batteries. Adam Rowling (Lancaster) then talked about his ongoing PhD studies into organically synthesised porous carbon materials. Another UoL PhD researcher, Xiaohang Qiao, then discussed the use of cheap deep eutectic solvents for single molecule junction electrochemistry. Finally, Alexandra Michail (Lancaster) closed the meeting with a talk including the challenges and perspectives of developing rechargeable magnesium batteries. Networking continued for several hours after closing the afternoon session.
In summary, the meeting was a success with great attendance from those across the North West and beyond. There was an amazing and varied turnout of poster presentations and 11 interesting and thought-provoking talks across a wide range of topics, from electrochemical sensors for diagnosing diseases, CO2 reduction, novel materials, advanced spectroelectrochemistry, and next-generation battery technologies. Both pairs of academics who judged the morning and afternoon sessions made sure to emphasise that the high quality of all presentations made judging a challenging task. We have received very positive feedback from the attendees regarding the day and we look forward to this meeting series being continued next year hosted by either Manchester or Lancaster.
The event was brought about through the organisation of Dr Alex Neale (University of Liverpool), along with Dr Mangayarkarasi Nagarathinam (Lancaster University) and Hussain Al Nasser (University of Manchester). Many thanks to our sponsors, the RSC Applied Materials Chemistry Group, the RSC Electrochemistry Interest Group, Alvatek, Biologic Science Instruments, Cellerate, Hiden Analytical, and Metrohm.
- The Recycling Battery Project has gone really well thanks to your excellent pack and box of resources.
- The children thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the lessons. I particularly liked the links with Scientists from the university as it gave the children an insight into where Science education can take them in the future. The PowerPoint presentations were a really helpful teaching resource too.
- The children’s interest was captured well with the letter asking them to investigate the different strengths of glue. They really developed their investigation skills through this task. They loved using the term ‘anomaly’ when a result wasn’t expected. They suggested that next time, every crisp packet needs to be the same brand and size, the cleaning of the bags needs to be more thorough, the amount of glue applied needs to be exact. ( even though we tried), the speed at which the marbles were added needs to be the same and the way the bags were taped to the table needs to be more exact. I was so impressed with how critical they were of their approach to the investigation. Pritt stick was found to be the strongest glue which surprised me.
- The tasks were given a real purpose and each lesson linked together well. We’ve learnt so much about lithium ion batteries as the lessons brought them to life (with the help of crisp packets!)
- The lemon battery activity was their favourite. They were delighted to see the bulbs light. They had so many questions about other fruits so we tested bananas, oranges, melons, limes and kiwis. I had no idea if it would work and explained to the children that usually I know the out come of investigations but this was all new for me too. I warned them that nothing may happen and that’s just how science is. It made them feel like they were on the cutting edge of Science! The excitement and gasps when all the fruit powered the bulbs has to be one of my favourite teaching moments of all time!
- The car packs were wonderful and I gave them no direction so it was interesting to see how the children used the instructions and their initiative. It was a great way to complete the project and they loved working in teams to produce a working car.
- In our school we have a corridor where we display our writing. We decided to create a display based on the project so I’ve included photos of that too.
- It’s an excellent resource and I can highly recommend it! We would love to be part of any future projects and really appreciate the continued links you have with our school.
The Power of Recycling - the story of a lithium ion battery
This curriculum-linked STEM-based resource for 9-11 year olds and their teachers tells the story of lithium ion car batteries and the recycling process. Through simple models and activities, the children are introduced to how these batteries work, what they contain and why they should be recycled.
The resource comprises practical activities including:
- using everyday materials to build a model of a lithium ion cell and battery
- a challenge to separate a variety of everyday materials modelling real industrial processes
- an investigation
- a quiz and games
As the children complete the activities, they keep an ongoing record of what they have achieved in a ‘passport’. Once the passport is completed, they use their skills to build a model battery-powered vehicle.
Each lesson is supported by teacher notes and background information, resource list, pupils’ activity sheets, key STEM vocabulary and suggestions for additional or extension activities. There are PowerPoint presentations and animations to enrich the lessons. The activities are designed to be used individually or as part of an extended project and may be used by STEM ambassadors, science clubs or for home school projects.
Follow the links to view and download the following:
A PDF of the main resource, including lesson plans, teacher support notes, key vocabulary, curriculum links, pupils’ activity passport, quiz and games.
02-Powerpoint – Lithium ion cell animation
03-Powerpoint - Make a lemon battery
04-Video - A research scientist explains why a lithium ion battery should be recycled and sets the separation challenges for the children.
05-06-Powerpoint - A circus of eight separations based on real industrial processes. A challenge to separate a mixture of materials.
07-Powerpoint - A Sticky Problem- Investigating a suitable glue to make battery recycling easier.
10-PowerPoint - Build a battery-powered car. Presentation shows how to attach a motor, pulley, axles and wheels to a chassis and complete the circuit with batteries to produce motion.