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Technion Gets $5M Grant from Helmsley Trust for Super Battery

The American Technion Society (ATS) has announced that The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has granted the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel a major gift to further develop a light, long-lasting and environmentally friendly battery for energy storage. The ultimate goal is aimed at reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.


The $5 million, three-year grant - secured in collaboration with Technion Prof. Gideon Grader, Head of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP) - will be used to create The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Energy Storage Complex, and to support the Leaders in Energy Science Program.


Gidi Grader
Prof. Gideon Grader


"The Helmsley Trust is proud to be associated with the Technion in this very important project," said Sandor Frankel, a trustee of the Helmsley Trust.


"The Helmsley grant is extremely significant as it comes at a perfect time," said Prof. Grader. Two U.S. patents are pending for the Technion Si-air battery, a new type of silicon-air battery that was developed by a research team led by Assoc. Prof. Yair Ein-Eli. It is now critical to create prototypes to protect that intellectual property, and to further develop the battery for transfer to commercial enterprise.


The Energy Storage Complex will consist of three separate laboratories for conducting battery research. "This new class of battery avoids the need to use heavy metals in battery construction, making it lighter (than conventional batteries) and disposable," said Assoc. Prof. Ein-Eli. The eco-friendly battery has a high tolerance for both extremely dry and humid conditions, high-energy capacity, and a potentially infinite shelf life.


The complex will also house state-of-the-art equipment that is currently not available in Israel - such as a multipurpose X-ray diffraction system. Tools like these are expected to attract both industrial and academic collaboration.


A priority of the GTEP is to attract first-rate new faculty members in energy-related fields. The Leaders in Energy Science Program will provide salaries plus funding for equipment for two new researchers for three years. By offering a competitive compensation package and top research facilities, the Technion will be able to lure back home top Israeli doctoral students and postdoctoral research fellows who have been studying at leading universities abroad. "This is a major goal of the GTEP, which aims to recruit six new faculty in the course of the coming six years," said Prof. Grader.


Faced with the rapid depletion of cheap hydrocarbon sources, and the need to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, the development of cleantech alternatives has never been more crucial. The Technion Si-air battery, which Technion researchers have been developing for the past three years, is capable of supplying non-stop power for thousands of hours without needing to be replaced. Based on silicon nano-powder and atmospheric oxygen, these batteries promise significant ecological benefits because of their small size, long shelf life, and most importantly, the clean reversion of silicon back to its original form - sand.


This research will have civil applications in the fields of transportation, health care and portable electronics, as well as military applications. Potential uses also include medical applications in, for example, powering diabetic pumps or hearing aids.


Technion researchers expect that within one to two years, the silicon-air battery power output could be significantly increased; and in three to four years, could deliver output five times greater than the best lithium-ion battery currently available.


The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, established in 1999, is administered by Trustees selected by Leona Helmsley as a continuation of Mr. and Mrs. Helmsley's generous giving through their lifetimes. The Trust supports a diverse range of organizations with a major focus on health and medical research, in addition to programs in human services, education and conservation. The Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits. To date the Trust has announced more than $410 million in grants to charitable organizations.


The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel's leading science and technology university. Home to the country's first winners of the Nobel Prize in science, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel's high-tech companies are Technion alumni. Based in New York City, the American Technion Society (ATS) is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel,with offices around the country.



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