RIT Member Spotlight

Rochester Institute of Technology is a privately endowed, coeducational university with nine colleges located in suburban Rochester, New York.  RIT’s student body consists of approximately 15,000 undergraduate and 2,900 graduate students.  Its Kate Gleason College of Engineering and its Golisano Institute for Sustainablity are home to a broad range of programs and enterprises associated with energy storage technologies in particular and with addressing and solving practical problems associated with integrating renewable technology into the grid in general.

Professor Brian Landi in the Department of Chemical Engineering has been leading multiple federally funded research projects focused on improving the energy density and safety of lithium ion batteries. His research group is affiliated with the NanoPower Research Labs (NPRL) and utilizes carbon nanotubesas both a conductive additive and novel electrode support to increase the energy density and thermal stability of lithium ion batteries. Other battery efforts in Dr. Landi’s group are directed at active material synthesis and electrode engineering to improve cathode capacity, rate capability, and cyclability for high-energy designs.

The Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS) is a multidisciplinary academic unit of RIT whose mission is to undertake world-class academic and research programsfocused on sustainable production, sustainable energy, sustainable mobility, and ecologically friendly information technology systems.  GIS is the site of multiple programs related to energy storage.  The research group of Prof. Callie Babbitt is currently developing models to forecast future end-of-life lithium-ion batteries reaching the waste stream as a result of expected build-up of an electric vehicle fleet in the U.S. and to quantify attendant material and environmental impacts.  The group studies the feasibility and effectiveness of recycling portions of the battery waste stream as well as the management of the remaining materials with no recycled value.

The GIS Fuel Cell Test Bed is engaged in developing renewable hydrogen resources through reforming of bio-fuels and bio/petro-fuel blends.  The group has investigated a wide range of fuel feedstocks to produce hydrogen-rich syngas that can be supplied directly to solid oxide fuels cells or that can be further reduced for use in other fuel cell stack technologies.  The group also partners with established fuel cell companies and startups to characterize the performance of their systems.

Researchers at GIS perform a variety of battery application studies including developing approaches to perform short-duration tests of state-of-charge and faded capacity of used lithium-ion cells.  Other battery studies include empirical studies of infant mortality of single cells in battery packs and rebuilding of packs for secondary application.

GIS operates in a microgrid-equipped 75,000 square-foot research facility.  The GIS microgrid generation includes ~40 kW of solar generation capacity, ~3 kW of wind, and ability to integrate a ~100 kW fuel cell.  In addition, the building already features a ~400 kW fuel cell that produces more power than what the GIS building can consume.  The storage system consists of a twenty-two 2.6-kW lithium ion modules that GIS engineers integrated into a system, and a 100 kWh sodium salt based storage system (currently being added to the system).    RIT works on various aspects of the interface between microgrids and their interfacing utilities.  In partnership with Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) and its parent company, Iberdrola USA, RIT is developing controls for multi-criteria optimization (economic & environmental cost, reliability & durability) and operational control strategies, where the optimization takes inputs not only from its subsystems (distributed generation (DG), distributed storage (DS), and distributed load (DL)), but also from the utility and independent system operators (ISO), e.g. current cost, renewable mix, alerts about potential brownouts and blackouts.

RIT will be the home of the RIT/NY-BEST Battery Prototyping Center, which is a fee-for-service laboratory for companies and universities to advance battery product development and increase commercialization opportunities in the battery market in New York State.  The facility will allow researchers, companies, and universities access to prototyping facilities, including specialized battery fabrication equipment that enables a production of battery cells in a commercial format within a sealed dry room environment.

The Battery Prototyping Center was made possible through funding from NYSERDAand Empire State Development. The center will provide prototyping services for the more than 125 active members within the NY-BEST consortium and be strategically located on the RIT campus to maintain access to the facilities and expertise at the University.

Ryne Raffaelle, Vice President for Research and Associate Provost at RIT, commented "RIT is tremendously excited about our partnership with NY-BEST to establish the new Battery Prototyping Facility.  We look forward to supporting the innovations of the NY-BEST members and to help them accelerate their commercialization efforts."

RIT has an outstanding reputation for academics and is one of the first universities in the nation to offer a program in sustainability.  Its wide range of activities related to sustainability and to various topics related to energy storage makes RIT an exceptional resource to stakeholders in New York.