Technion Gets $5M Grant from Helmsley Trust for Super Battery
Monday, January 31, 2011
By: Jennifer Frey
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.
|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.
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.