Ashley David: Soret Effect and the Future of Batteries

My name is Ashley David. I am a junior studying biomedical engineering, with plans to pursue a PhD after graduation from FSU. I am originally from Birmingham, Michigan. I decided to come to FSU not only because of the beautiful campus environment, but because of all the opportunities and support offered to students by both the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, and Florida State University. Thus far, I have been encouraged to do research, which has given me fundamental knowledge on how to work in lab environments, and has allowed me to put class material into real life scenarios. Particularly, since joining the Polymers for Advanced Energy and Sustainability lab, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with other students who share similar interests, learn to communicate my findings, and have even begun the process of writing my first scientific journal article, which will soon be submitted for publication. These skills will all prove to be vital as I continue my path to graduate school, and someday enter the industry in the area of research and development or entrepreneurship.

Ashley David, Biomaterials and Polymers major
Steve Madden Undergraduate Research Award winner

Aside from research, I have enjoyed participation in organizations such as AiChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers), BMES (Biomedical Engineering Society) , and SWE (Society of Women Engineers), as well as being an NCAA D1 athlete- running track and field as well as cross country. These have all allowed me to connect with other students at the COE and FSU, network with industry professionals, and even prepare my own research path better, shaping my overall experience at Florida State.

This Summer, I will be continuing a project focused on the Soret Effect, which is the
phenomenon in which a concentration gradient is induced via the introduction of a temperature gradient. Having a love of nature, and growing up near a city such as Detroit, Michigan (often called “Motor City”), I have seen first hand the effects that the automotive industries cars and factories can have on a community. There is a significant number of waste heat coming from these processes, which is a sinkhole for company budgets, as well as raises environmental concerns. A more efficient method of harvesting this wasted heat is needed.

Thus, the Soret Effect could be used in a thermogalvanic cell, which is driven by a
temperature gradient, with the wasted heat as its source. This system would decrease the amount of wasted energy around the world, reduce costs for many companies, and have applications for the aforementioned cars and industrial processes, along with geothermal and power generation complexes. These are only examples of some uses, but by further studying the Soret effect this allows for more information to be gathered, leading towards a universal model for diffusion to create this ideal battery system.

Specifically, I will analyze the block copolymer polystyrene-poly(ethylene oxide) (SEO),
with varying salt molar masses, namely LitFSI, LiCFSO3, and LiCl, with Fourier Transform
Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Using the FTIR, it is possible to measure the absorbance and
concentration of polymer electrolytes, and thus obtain the fickian and thermal diffusion
coefficients for calculation of the magnitude of the Soret coefficient. Not only would the
creation of a model for the Soret Coefficient lead to more sustainable energy globally, but also improve battery safety and stability, as it is made from solid state polymer electrolytes, in opposition to liquid forms, which are highly flammable.

Ultimately, I hope to gather data and publish a paper on this work, as well as put together
a presentation that I can share with the scientific community. Having a scientific paper published on this topic would add to my experience before entering graduate school, to my application to these programs, as well as be a highly referenced source for future work in this field. I will aim to make a contribution towards making this ideal battery a reality, and will make strides towards options for more efficient energy.

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