Student Awarded Sonnerup Fellowship for Energy Storage Research

April 27, 2016

Max Saccone
Max Saccone '17

Max Saccone '17 was awarded The Bengt Sonnerup Fellowship for the 2016–2017 academic year. The fellowship will support further research and implementation of his work with Professor Weiyang (Fiona) Li entitled, "Understanding the Mechanism in High-Energy Sulfur-Based Batteries via In Situ SurfaceEnchanced Raman Spectrosopy (SERS)."

"Max’s project addresses the poorly understood electrochemical reaction mechanism in high-energy and cost-effective sulfur-based battery systems which give high theoretical energy densities — three to five times higher than those of the commonly used lithium-ion batteries," says Professor Li. "His study will provide valuable information and insights into the complicated electrochemical processes, and thus guide the design of better electrodes and cells. Max has a great academic record in both his engineering and chemistry courses. I believe he is well-suited for this research."

"This project deals with understanding the chemical reactions that take place in high energy sulfur-based batteries through surface-enchanced Raman spectroscopy," explained Saccone. "This type of battery is a very attractive energy storage technology due to its high theoretical energy densities and its use of earth-abundant materials, which makes it ideal for use in grid-level energy storage and in electric vehicles. Presently, the individual steps of the oxidation-reduction reaction that takes place within the battery are not well understood. However, certain reaction intermediates that are formed during these steps, called polysulfides, are detrimental to the overall performance of the battery. With greater understanding of the mechanism of polysulfide formation, it will be possible to design better batteries. I am very excited to begin working on this project because it combines innovative scientific discovery with important practical applications, and will allow me to put what I’ve learned at Thayer to good use."

The Sonnerup Fellowship is made possible through the generosity of an anonymous donor with the goal of encouraging the development of applied research that addresses the challenges, broadly defined, of global climate change.