Prof. Aurbach's Lab
Prof. Doron Aurbachisa Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Director of the Nano Cleantech Center at the Bar-Ilan Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA).
Aurbach and his team study the electrochemistry of active metals and polar aprotic systems, the development of spectroscopic methods (in situ and ex situ) for sensitive electrochemical systems, and the electrochemistry of modified electrodes. They conduct basic studies of electrochemical intercalation processes and work to develop rechargeable high energy density batteries and EDL capacitors.
They also work on electronically conducting polymers and activated carbon electrodes, and their engineering, characterization and applications. Aurbach’s group also studies water desalination by electrochemical means.
Aurbach is best known for the important role he played in acquiring the basic science that was needed for the development of commercial lithium ion batteries, which is now standard issue in cellphones and computers. He was involved himself in a pioneering development of commercial rechargeable Li (metal) batteries, together with the Israeli company Tadiran Inc.
Today, research in his lab focuses on several important topics, including the development of new materials for advanced, high energy density Li ion batteries for electric vehicle (EV) applications. The group is actively collaborating with ETV Motors, a Herzliya-based company that develops solutions for extended range electric vehicles.
In addition, the group works on the development of new materials and strategies for a variety of electrochemical storage technologies for sustainable energy (solar, wind). These include magnesium-based batteries, invented by Aurbach’s group, that can be cycled thousands of times. In another project, the group works on the development of electrode materials and methodologies for water desalination.
Currently, approximately one-fifth of the world’s population lacks dependable access to clean drinking water. To address this pressing issue, Aurbach and his team use nanoporous carbon electrodes to create novel technologies for water desalination and purification.
Their work focuses on capacitive deionization (CDI), a process in which voltage applied to sea water selectively moves salts through a filter, leaving fresh water behind. Their present system provides a relatively fast and cost-effective means of water desalination and purification. In addition, the system is unique in that it prevents the removal of the alkaline earth ions, namely important nutrients such as calcium and magnesium ions.
Aurbach’s group is also working on new technologies for storing the nonpolluting energy harvested from wind turbines and solar power stations. They are working on “load leveling” technologies, which would allow power station activity to fluctuate in accordance with consumer demand. Such technologies would provide a method to store energy when it is created and allow it to be delivered according to the desired level of energy consumption. Aurbach’s group collaborates with a number of leading industrial concerns on several electrochemical technologies for the storage and conversion of sustainable energy.
Scope of Collaborations
Aurbach’s group has active and formal collaborations with leading giant companies including BASF and Merck in Germany, Dow Chemicals and General Motors (GM) in the US, on new materials for EV batteries. The group collaborates with 3 prominent research groups at MIT on advanced materials science for batteries and super capacitors.
The group also collaborates with Elbit and Vulcan Israel on R&D of devices for load leveling applications. Note that the group has 4 collaborative projects in parallel with GM and 3 collaborative projects in parallel with BASF, the biggest chemical company in the world. Aurbach’s group at BIU was selected as part of the special network of excellence that was elaborated last year by BASF. Within this network, Aurbach’s group collaborates with two prominent German research groups and another prominent research group from Switzerland.
Looking to the Future
Aurbach’s group plans to maintain its position of world leadership in the research and development of novel devices for energy storage and conversion. The group aims to be in the center of national efforts to change the energy economy to a lesser dependence on fossil fuels.
They also intend to play a major role in the revolutionary move of ground transportation from propulsion by internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. One of their goals is to demonstrate new approaches for water treatments (desalination, removal of poisons) by electrochemical means.