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02-09-2015

New GE Chair in Oil & Gas Systems at Clarkson University Explores Innovative Energy Storage Devices

Clarkson University's new GE Chair in Oil & Gas Systems is finding new ways to store energy using everyday materials that don't necessarily come to mind when one thinks of a "battery."

David MitlinDavid Mitlin, a professor of both chemical & biomolecular engineering and mechanical & aeronautical engineering in Clarkson's Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering, recently received international media attention for producing supercapacitors out of hemp bast fiber -- the material found inside the bark of the hemp plant.

The new "super caps" performed on a par with or better than graphene -- the industry standard -- and at a fraction of the cost. The hemp used is legal to grow and contains no THC.

Bridging the gap between electrolytic capacitors and rechargeable batteries, supercapacitors can store more energy than electrolytic capacitors, can accept and deliver a charge much faster than batteries, and tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries. They are used in applications requiring many rapid charge/discharge cycles, rather than long-term compact energy storage -- like cars, buses, trains, cranes and elevators.

Most recently, Mitlin and his research team used peanut shells to create a hybrid sodium ion capacitor (NIC) or "super capattery," which bridged the gap between conventional ion batteries and supercapacitors.

Mitlin's research spans both renewables and conventional energy topics, focusing on the creation of new materials for sodium ion batteries and lithium ion batteries, and electrochemical capacitors for aggressive oil refining environments.

The GE Chair in Oil & Gas Systems was established through a generous gift from General Electric. Among all companies employing Clarkson alumni, GE has the second highest number of Clarkson graduates working for them, with over 500 throughout its various companies. In addition to being one of the University's most active recruiters, GE partners with Clarkson on research projects, academic programs, graduate fellowships, and student activities. Mitlin will be the main point of contact for GE Oil & Gas on campus, oversee the work of the GE Oil & Gas graduate students and engage with faculty in order to ensure strong career pipeline development.

A native of Olean, N.Y., Mitlin says that he is delighted to be back in New York State and hopes to find materials indigenous to the North Country to use in research at his new Clarkson laboratory

Before coming to Clarkson in the fall, Mitlin was a professor at the University of Alberta (2004-2014) and a directors-funded post-doctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2002-2004). From 2000 to 2002, he also worked as an integration engineer at the IBM Semiconductor Research and Development Center in Hopewell Junction, N.Y.

While at the University of Alberta, Mitlin secured more than $8 million in research grants from the federal government, the province and from industry; and successfully funded and led a group of nine graduate students and one post-doctoral fellow.

Alta Supercaps, a start-up formed by Mitlin, is focusing on providing competitively priced supercapacitors to compete in existing and emerging markets, including consumer electronics and hardware, and oil/gas/mining exploration environments.

Mitlin has published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented more than 60 invited or keynote talks. He holds two U.S. patents, is an editor for Journal of Materials Science, and serves on the board of review for Metallurgical and Materials Transactions.

He has supervised and graduated 14 Ph.D. students, six master of science students and eight post-doctoral fellows, all of whom are now working as leaders in industry, government research organizations, and academia.

Mitlin's awards and honors include the TMS Young Leader Professional Development Award and the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award.

He received his doctoral degree in materials science from the University of California at Berkeley, his master of science in materials science from Pennsylvania State University, and his bachelor of science in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Mitlin will reside with his family in Hannawa Falls, N.Y.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/dmitlin-tem.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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