RENO, Nevada (KOLO) – Earlier this month, the Biden administration allocated nearly $4 billion to universities and private companies across the country to develop modern battery technologies and factories to build them.
About $2,000,000 will be sent to UNR.
That’s because the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering is at the forefront of battery technology.
“It normally takes 20 years to develop a generation of workforce, and we’re trying to do it in four to five years,” said Professor Dev Chidambaram from the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. “That means it has its own limitations,” he said.
Don’t be intimidated, in a lab, a researcher is working on a way to keep batteries powered in cold weather. Such discoveries could help NASA use unmanned vehicles on Mars and even the moon.
Other limitations include how far the battery can go before it needs to be recharged. Professor Chidambaram said there was some exciting research in the field.
“We’ll get there over time,” he said. “In the same number of batteries that we have today, we’re going to have more capacity. So we can go 600 miles to 700 miles, hopefully you can take a break,” Professor Chidambaram said.
That’s better than any car powered by a tank of gas.
A battery’s life cycle doesn’t have to end with a car, he said. Batteries that can only store a small amount of electricity can be transferred to solar or wind energy to store electricity.
As far as fire is concerned, the chemistry of batteries makes them less safe. Cars now have additional components that can detect a problem before it occurs, and research is still needed to see if other less corrosive materials can be used in battery technology.
However, none of this will happen unless colleges and universities develop programmes to educate and graduate engineers whose expertise revolves around battery technology, Professor Chidambaram said. It is certainly hoped that PhDs in Materials Science will be able to develop the battery technology of the future. But once those batteries reach the factory floor, additional engineers are needed.
That’s why UNR offers a minor in battery and storage technology—the first in the nation.
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