The UN Sustainable Development Goal Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7) aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. We spoke to Prof. Yair Ein-Eli, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Solid State Electrochemistry about advanced materials, battery applications and supporting SDG7.
I am involved in basic and applied electrochemistry research in the fields of battery materials, corrosion and electroplating. The battery systems we are looking at are alkali ions (Li and Na -ions) batteries, metal air battery technology and alternative and novel anode fuels that may serve in a battery system.
I am looking for conditions that can extend the term of which a metal or material can be regarded as an anode in batteries, i.e. extending which materials can be regarded as “anodes”. We are developing electrolytes and methods of electrochemical deposition and analyzing the corrosion capabilities of the “advanced anode” in the electrolyte. Thus we are providing a holistic approach to the concept of “advanced materials” for battery applications.
My research directly impacts SDG 7. The quest for sustainable energy sources, ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. In this sense, studying inexpensive fuels (anodes) will contribute to the provision of affordable energy to anyone anywhere. In my area of research, a direct impact would be the graduate students and postdocs who are absorbed by the industry and into the market, establish a startup, or join an industry that will commercialize research into a product.
Indirect social impact is the ability to influence the life of others: in remote areas around the globe that will be using the batteries as power sources, thus improving communication capabilities, or providing drinkable water as a result of using sustainable energy sources to recharge batteries.
Interestingly, the “traditional” methods win. Peer-review publication is still the most effective way to communicate research. In addition, attending conferences, meeting scholars face to face and delivering talks are still the best way of communicating and discussing recent results with peers.
The simplest advice would be to map the “circles” of influence of the technology/science they are aiming to become experts in. The outer shells (circles) of their influence should be societal. During an academic career and as one “grows”, the circle's positions may (…or should I state: “should”) flip and the societal impact would be prioritized as the first one.
This is indeed a tricky question, since academic careers are still evaluated by looking at scientific impact within the research community. Evaluation and recognition of a scholar’s social impact should also be taken into consideration within academic management.
Prof. Yair Ein-Eli serves as a faculty member at the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Yair graduated from Bar-Ilan University (1995). He joined the Technion in 2001 after serving 3 years as the VP of R&D of Electric Fuel Ltd. (Israel) Before that, he was a post-doctoral fellow (1995-1998) at Covalent Assoc. Inc. (MA, USA). Current research projects in the field of power sources involve advanced materials for Li-ion batteries, alkaline batteries, metal-air cells and fuel cells. He is also engaged in research and development of electroplating methods, as well as corrosion inhibitors studies.