Blog Post- Battery Workshop at Benenden School- by Iain Aldous (ReLiB)
Energy is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century and as the urgency of this challenge edges towards critical status, we need to inspire subsequent generations to take up the mantle. High school students already understand the impacts that climate change and energy uncertainty may have on their lives and lead protests against political institutions to take firm, mitigating action against it. The enthusiasm and awareness of this issue in young people means that direction as well as inspiration is required. It is our responsibility to harness youthful energy, store it, and develop pathways for students towards successful careers in energy storage when their time comes.
With the support of the fabulous Faraday Institution, savvy students, enigmatic educators, and resourceful researchers we hosted a lithium ion battery workshop for Benenden School students at the University of Leicester. This successfully provided a melting pot for knowledge exchange, fuelling ideas for future collaboration and delivering impact for ReLib in the wider community.
The students, enthused with knowledge provided via an online seminar by Prof. Andrew Abbott on his world leading research into deep eutectic solvents (DES’s) arrived full of questions for our on hand team. A deep eutectic solvent is a material formed by mixing two or three safe, inexpensive solids that spontaneously form a liquid at a low temperature. These materials are the solvents of the future that have impact across the chemical industry as clean, non-flammable and tuneable liquids for a vast number of applications.
Our discussions were opened by Dr. Jenny Hartley on DES’s, followed by discussion lead by Dr. Iain Aldous on how these could be used in energy storage technologies. After the discussions were finally put on hold due to time constraints the practical aspect could begin. Led by Jason Terreblanche (PhD student) we demonstrated the synthesis of a deep eutectic solvent and coin cell manufacture allowing these students to see a day in the life of a world class materials research lab. The students successfully built working batteries and have had continued success in their endeavours at their home institution.
The success of this event has built strong links between the University of Leicester ReLib Project team and Benenden School. We will keep you updated of our exchanges in the summer as we take our knowledge on the road to Kent as part of Benenden Schools Materials Science week.