Smith group presents new theory of convection for understanding fast charging of batteries

See our new paper published in the Journal of Power Sources where we’ve introduced a spectral Sherwood number for modeling transient electrochemistry within porous electrodes. The results have primary impact on the charging of redox flow batteries using renewable power sources and broader impact on energy and environmental devices, chemical engineering, thermal engineering, petroleum engineering, and hydrology. A related press release is here.

Article Published on Nemani’s Numerical Modeling Techniques for Electrochemical Devices

An article by Smith group alumnus Dr. Venkat Pavan Nemani (now a postdoc at Iowa State University) was recently published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society [Nemani and Smith, J. Electrochem. Soc., DOI: 10.1149/1945-7111/ab9b0d (2020)].  While the modeling of many devices for electrochemical energy storage and water treatment has been democratized by access to commercial and open-source software (e.g., COMSOL, OpenFOAM, and Ansys Fluent), the specific techniques needed to perform robust, reliable, and accurate simulation of the complex processes occurring in those devices are often not reported in the literature.  This article of our’s attempts to bridge that gap by showing that certain conditions must be satisfied to solve the highly coupled equations that govern the simultaneous transport of charge and reactions rates in electrochemical devices.  Further, we introduce several numerical techniques that can be used to make the simulation of such processes robust to operating conditions and design parameters.  While the present article is posed specifically for electrochemical energy storage using redox flow batteries, the issues raised and the techniques introduced readily apply to other electrochemical devices for energy storage and water treatment as well.

Theory of pore-scale transport to enable improved flow batteries

In a recently published article in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society (freely available at, Prof. Smith and his PhD student Md Abdul Hamid have introduced new theory to enable the prediction of molecular transport of redox-active molecules “from the bottom up.”  This work could enable the improved design and operation of redox flow batteries, in addition to establishing fundamental understanding of reactive transport in flows inside of porous materials.  Read the entire press release here.

Illinois engineer continues to make waves in water desalination

For the past several years, assistant professor Kyle Smith has proven his growing expertise in the field of water desalination, with a range of research results that could address the immediate need to combat diminishing clean water sources around the world.  Now, with a new publication and new research project funded by the National Science Foundation, he continues to build on his highly praised work to develop new methods of deionizing saltwater.

Read the entire press release from UIUC’s Mechanical Science and Engineering department here.