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Smith wins award for battery-based desalination work


Julia Stackler

Smith receiving his award from ISE president Zhong-Qun Tian.
Smith receiving his award from ISE president Zhong-Qun Tian.
MechSE Assistant Professor Kyle Smith was honored by the International Society of Electrochemistry with the 2018 ISE-Elsevier Prize for Applied Electrochemistry. The prize is awarded annually to a scientist under age 35 for achievements in the field of applied electrochemistry.

Smith’s award win was based entirely on his group’s high-level work at Illinois on the mathematical modeling of battery-based desalination devices, lithium-ion batteries, and flow batteries.

Specifically, he has made significant progress toward developing a saltwater desalination process that is potentially cheaper than reverse osmosis and thermal distillation, showing that technology used in sodium-ion batteries can efficiently desalinate seawater. His findings could address the immediate need to combat diminishing clean water sources around the world as well as global climate change. Smith and his group have published several groundbreaking studies in Electrochemica Acta and the Journal of The Electrochemical Society demonstrating the viability of their battery-like desalination technology and studying the materials used.

The award will be presented to Smith in August 2019, at the society’s 70th Annual Meeting in Durban, South Africa, where he will also present an award lecture.

“In the short time since publication of the article where we introduced the idea of using sodium-ion battery materials for desalination, our work has stimulated experiments and modelling in other groups around the globe as well as new research directions in our own research group. The outlook for this technology is tremendous and opportunities for fundamental research on materials that it uses and devices based upon it are numerous,” said Smith.

Read more of Smith's work in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society here and here, and in Electrochemica Acta here, here, and here

Watch Smith’s video depicting how the device operates: