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May 31, 2022

Engineers selected for WARF Accelerator Electrification Challenge Grants

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation announced that four projects have been selected to receive development funding through the WARF Accelerator Electrification Challenge Grant.

The grant invited submissions for new technologies to help leverage electricity from sources other than fossil fuels to power our buildings, vehicles and world. The selected projects have high potential impact and range from high performance batteries to electric machines.

Faculty and students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering are involved in all four selected projects.

Matthew Gebbie, the Conway Assistant Professor in chemical and biological engineering along with post-doctoral researcher Bingchen Wang and graduate students John McAlpine and Ryan Cashen are researching a new class of electrolytes to support next-generation batteries. A multibillion-dollar market, batteries are essential for the decarbonization of transportation and energy grids. But mounting environmental and human costs are driving interest in developing new “beyond lithium” batteries. This project draws on recent advances in the field to envision emerging battery chemistries.

Chirag Gupta, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is serving as lead principal investigator on a project with Assistant Professor Shubhra Pasayat and Jean Bladel Associate Professor Daniel Ludois. They are investigating streamlined transistor design that could improve the energy efficiency of power electronics. This technology could one day help the grid deliver stable and reliable electric power derived from renewable energy.

Dawei Feng, the Y. Austin Chang Assistant Professor in materials science and engineering, is collaborating on a project with lead PI Song Jin, a professor of chemistry, and graduate student Ethan Auleciems. The team is investigating high performance and commercially practical solar flow batteries – a potentially game-changing energy technology that combines the functions of solar cells and rechargeable batteries in a single system by converting solar energy into chemical energy. This project looks to achieve higher efficiency with lower costs.

Eric Severson, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and graduate student Nathan Petersen will use the grant to research a cost- and weight-saving design to sense rotor displacement in electric machines. The need for this kind of ‘condition monitoring’ is rapidly growing in critical electrification spaces including electrified cars, aircraft, construction/agriculture vehicles, and wind turbines in remote locations. With space and weight at a premium in these motor designs, a highly integrated sensing solution is needed.

“Smart and sustainable energy is an inspiring vision,” says Erik Iverson, CEO of WARF. “The nuts-and-bolts solutions begin as bold ideas and creative collaborations here on the UW-Madison campus. We’re excited to join them in taking on this great challenge.”

A version of this story was first published by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.