The Metal Processing Institute (MPI) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a leading industry-university alliance dedicated to advancing the field of materials science. Through research in the areas of metal casting, heat treating, and resource recovery and recycling, MPI has earned awards, recognition, breakthrough patents, and industry accolades.
Working together, industry leaders and university researchers solve business challenges and improve manufacturing processes that save energy, reduce cycle time, increase productivity, and eliminate environmental waste.
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Bayh-Dole Coalition Selects WPI Professor Yan Wang as an Inaugural “Face of American Innovation”
Wang honored for his pioneering lithium-ion battery recycling technique
Yan Wang, WPI Faculty member of CR3 has been named to the Bayh-Dole Coalition’s inaugural “Faces of American Innovation.” Wang is among just five individuals to be recognized with the American Innovator Award by the Coalition, which consists of “a diverse group of innovation-oriented organizations and individuals committed to celebrating and protecting the Bayh-Dole Act.” The awardees were chosen for their cutting-edge work in helping turn early-stage scientific discoveries into products that benefit people and the planet.
Professor Wang’s lab developed a lithium-ion battery recycling technique capable of collecting and reusing 98% of critical metals from discarded batteries. The process is only 10% as carbon-intensive as conventional lithium-ion manufacturing. WPI worked with Wang to patent the invention in 2012, and a spin-off company has since licensed the patent for commercial development.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award for my work in the field of lithium-ion battery recycling,” said Wang. “This recognition underscores the critical importance of sustainable technology solutions that address our planet’s pressing challenges. Through collaborative efforts, we are forging a path towards a greener future, where innovation and environmental stewardship intersect to create lasting impact.”
“Professor Wang’s immense contributions to lithium-ion battery manufacturing and recycling exemplify the spirit of innovation and discovery that the Bayh-Dole Coalition deeply values,” said Joseph P. Allen, executive director of the Bayh-Dole Coalition. “Without visionary innovators like Professor Wang and the ingenious tech transfer system established by the Bayh-Dole Act, many promising early-stage discoveries would fail to reach their full potential.”
Professor Thomas Christiansen – New Director of the Center for Heat Treating Excellence Thomas joined WPI in July 2023 as Director of the Center for Heat Treating Excellence (CHTE) and Professor in Mechanical and Materials Engineering. He has more than 20 years of experience within thermochemical surface engineering and heat treatment of metallic materials. His research interests are gas-metal interactions, high-interstitial alloys, (thermochemical) surface engineering and microstructure optimization for improving materials performance – for example via heat treatment. He received his Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Surface Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in 2005. From 2008 to 2017 he was Senior Researcher at DTU and from 2017 to 2023 Associate Professor and faculty member. From 2022 to 2023, until the time where he joined WPI, he was president of the Danish Metallurgical Society. He has a special interest and a long record of accomplishment within surface hardening and heat treatment of self-passivating materials such as stainless steels and titanium alloys. Besides his academic career, he has been deeply involved in innovation activities and is the co-founder of two companies: In 2010 he co-founded the company Expanite that offers surface hardening and heat treatment of stainless steels and in 2014 he co-founded the company TRD Surfaces that offers surface hardening solutions for steels. He has (co-)authored more than 160 articles/book chapters and is the co-inventor on 17 patent applications.
Thomas has a keen focus on the synergistic interplay between science and technology and how this best can be exploited to provide solutions to challenges in industry.