Engineering prof lauded as leading innovator
August 18, 2009
Achieving advances in new battery technologies that could more reliably and efficiently power electronic devices, electric cars and renewable-energy systems has earned Arizona State University faculty member Cody Friesen a place on a prominent list of the world’s top young innovators of 2009.
Friesen, an associate professor in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials Engineering in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, has been named among the “TR35” by Technology Review magazine, one of the leading technology news publications.
He is one of only 35 people – all under the age of 35 – chosen from more than 300 nominees around the world for the award recognizing scientists, engineers, technologists and entrepreneurs who “exemplify the spirit of innovation.”
Editors of the magazine, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), were impressed with Friesen’s work with a method that solved a long-time problem of how to recharge zinc-air batteries.
This type of battery – using zinc metal for an anode and an alkaline paste for an electrolyte – had proven to be simple, nontoxic, inexpensive to produce and durable, but not rechargeable.
Friesen fixed that using a porous electrode with a liquid solution of zinc ions and additives as an electrolyte.
He has co-founded Fluidic Energy to commercialize his new design for a rechargeable metal-air battery. Testing of a prototype is planned for later this year.
Friesen’s goal is to see batteries on the market in about two years that can store twice as much energy as the batteries currently used in laptop computers and some hybrid electric cars.
Eventually, he said, the metal-air technology could produce a battery capable of storing 10 times as much energy as today’s lithium-ion devices – and be less expensive to produce than conventional batteries.
There’s also great potential for using the new batteries to improve storage of energy from wind-generated and solar-generated electricity.
“Entrepreneurial spirit, risk-taking and the desire to make a positive impact on society are the key factors driving the growth and evolution of our school. Cody Friesen embodies these traits,” said Kyle Squires, interim director of the School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials Engineering.
Friesen’s recognition by Technology Review “is a validation of the environment that is being shaped at ASU, where we promote entrepreneurship and researchers are encouraged to boldly pursue innovative solutions, “ Squires said.
Friesen and the other TR35 winners for 2009 will be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review magazine and honored at the EmTech@MIT 2009 Conference MIT in Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 22 to 24.
See a video of Friesen talking about his research and more information about TR35 award winners.