Resnick Institute

2014 Resonate Award Winners

Shinichi Komaba

Resonate Award Recipient for developing materials for safe, efficient battery storage for EVs and the grid.



The Challenge

Komaba’s work engages the challenges of energy storage and conversion. Energy storage is crucial to maintaining a stable supply of energy and allows for increased adoption of intermittent renewables into the grid. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have been viewed as potential storage solutions for use at stationary power sources and in transportation, however there are many unresolved safety and performance issues that must be addressed. Additionally, lithium resources are scarce or unevenly distributed across the globe, increasing their price and necessitating research into affordable alternatives.

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The Response

Komaba has developed safer lithium-ion systems that incorporate a nonflammable liquid electrolyte. This could mitigate the primary problem hindering the large-scale adoption of lithium-ion batteries for transportation, which is electrolyte flammability. He has also developed anode and cathode materials from earth abundant sources to develop some of the highest energy sodium-ion batteries to date.

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The Future

Breakthroughs in sodium ion batteries and safer lithium ion systems show promise toward realizing cost effective zero-emission vehicles and mitigating the power variability of incorporating renewable energy sources into the grid.