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.