(GR8) Design of a Molten Salt Metal-Air Battery with High-Energy Density

Decarbonization of long-haul transportation i.e. ships and trains is among the toughest challenges toward eliminating greenhouse emissions, but metal-air batteries have extraordinary potential to meet this challenge. This talk will present experimental and modeling results for a novel molten salt magnesium-air battery with a MgCl‚-NaCl-KCl-MgO electrolyte operating at 420-620°C. O² dissolves at the cathodes and Mg² at solid magnesium anodes. Experimental results show 1.9 V open circuit voltage, which is the highest to date for an Mg-air battery. Modeling shows up to 0.5 W/cm² at 80% efficiency or 3.3 W/cm² at 42% efficiency. Directional solidification removes MgO reaction product from the molten salt electrolyte. The stability of the cathode material is another criterion for this fuel cell. This battery has the potential for 30-40 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries at very high efficiency, and its Mg anode and molten salt materials are abundant in seawater.

(UG3) Creating Replacements for Single-Use Plastics in the Cuenca Soup Kitchen

The Cuenca Soup Kitchen aims to be an environmentally conscious operation by reducing plastic waste. Through interviewing volunteers and observing their operations, we found that plastic bags used to package rice, produce, salt, and sugar lead to high plastic waste. We developed processes for creating reusable bags from single-use bags for the rice and produce and identified how to reuse plastic water bottles for salt and sugar. These recommendations will save the Cuenca Soup Kitchen over $900 per year as well as prevent them from using over 18,200 single-use bags per year.

(UG4) Exploring the Feasibility of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors for Research and Energy at WPI

The increased risks of climate change are forcing communities to rethink how they meet their energy needs. In this project, we investigated the feasibility of integrating a small modular nuclear reactor (SMNR) at WPI for both research and power generation. During this investigation, we conducted interviews, directed a survey, and viewed carbon emissions data. By analyzing this information, we found that implementing an SMNR would benefit the institution by providing additional research opportunities and reducing overall emissions through the cogeneration of heat and electricity in a safe manner by utilizing SMNR technology as soon as 2026, when it is predicted to be commercially available.

(GR9) Rare Earth Metal Recycling Using a Novel, Low-cost Distillation Technology

We are perfecting a technology that will extract rare earth metals from magnet scrap because rare earth metals are in short supply in the United States. 95% of rare earth metal production is carried out in China, and right now, there are no U.S. producers. The only non-Chinese producers are Estonia, Vietnam, and Thailand- a small market.

We are looking to build a start-up in the U.S. to fill the vacuum, and part of our research is to prove that out.