James Obute

MIT Department: Chemical Engineering
Undergraduate Institution: University of Kentucky
Faculty Mentor: Fikile Brushett
Research Supervisor: Katharine Greco, Kevin Tenny
Website: LinkedIn

2019 Research Poster


I am from Lagos, Nigeria, and I am currently studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Kentucky. I am extremely passionate about tackling the energy challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa. My research interests fall heavily within electrochemical engineering, and they include developing and improving energy storage systems, and the intersection of energy, technology, and policy. My hobbies include running, swimming, reading books, and hanging out with friends.

2019 Research Abstract

Investigating the Microstructural Effects of Electrode Compression on Redox Flow Battery Performance

 James Obute1, Kevin M. Tenny2, Katharine Greco2, and Fikile R. Brushett2
1Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Kentucky
2Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Redox flow batteries (RFBs) promote the decarbonization of the electricity sector by enabling the storage of intermittent renewable energy over mid to long-duration timescales (hours-days). However, further cost reduction is necessary for ubiquitous adoption. Electrodes are particularly important components of the RFB system, and this study examines the effect of electrode compression and performance. Freudenberg paper and Avcarb cloth, common RFB electrodes with differing microstructures, were chosen for this study. We found that cloth electrodes elicited the highest surface area and electrochemical performance at 25% compression, whereas the carbon paper electrodes showed optimal performances at 10% compression. Additionally, the permeability of the cloth electrode increased at 10% compression compared to uncompressed material, but permeability decreased significantly at higher percentage compressions. We hypothesize that there exists a trade-off between porosity, permeability, and accessible surface area of the electrodes; this trade-off results in maximized performance at moderate compression of 25% and 10% for cloth and paper, respectively. Elucidating the relationship between compression, microstructure, and performance enables targeted electrode design that will optimize the performance and reduce costs of RFBs, promoting their utilization at the grid scale.