Northeastern professor Eugene Smotkin named fellow by prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science

Professor of chemistry and chemical biology Eugene Smotkin has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

A forerunner in the techniques of operando spectroscopy, Smotkin was the first to examine the behavior of chemical catalysts in fuel cells while they actively underwent chemical reactions.

Using various spectroscopic techniques, Smotkin’s work opened “windows” onto how the catalysts in these fuels function. Eventually, this work led him to repurpose commercial automotive batteries, specifically the large traction batteries found in Toyota hybrids.

When one of these batteries starts to fail, there are both “irreversible capacity losses and reversible capacity losses,” Smotkin says. “My equipment actually recovered the reversible capacity lost, and it enabled us to put these reconditioned batteries back into the aftermarket.”

This means that these batteries, which before were likely going to landfills, could now be inexpensively repurposed, both for cars and for other purposes.

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Photo by Adam Glanzman