Carbon Lecture Series Registration

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Spring Semester 2021

REGISTRATION REQUIRED for each lecture. A Zoom link will be sent the day before the lecture to all those who have registered.


Friday, April 23, 2021 / 3:00-4:30pm EDT

The Application of Carbon Materials in Energy Storage Systems

Dr. Deyang Qu
Professor/Department Chair/Johnson Controls Endowed Professorship in Energy Storage Mechanical Engineering
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA 


Carbon materials are used in almost all battery chemistries employed commercially nowadays. Solid carbons can be used as conductive agents, catalysts, hosting materials for Li insertion, or porous electrodes for, e.g., fuel cells and supercapacitors. Carbon physical and electro-chemical properties such as crystal structure (aspect ratio, turbostratic disorder), surface functionalities (group types and distribution), surface area, pore size distribution, and particle size and shape distribution (fibers, felts) play important roles in the performance and manufacture of industrially viable energy storage and conversion devices including batteries, fuel cells and supercapacitors. These devices and their related technologies are of great contemporary interest worldwide in order to satisfy anticipated market demands for, e.g., electric vehicles.

In this lecture, I will provide a high-level discussion of the impact of above carbon properties on both the manufacture and the performance of energy storage systems. I will use selected results from my research group ( as illustrative examples. Four broad areas will be considered:

  • Basic properties of carbon materials which are important for energy storage (including high surface area amorphous carbon, normal and expanded graphite, and multi-layer graphene).
  • Electrode manufacturing processability of carbon materials used as conductive agents (graphite, carbon black, nanoforms) with emphasis on electrode pore structure and porosity, mass transfer and spring-back (or rebounce), lubricity, and tool wear.
  • Importance and role of carbon surface functionalities on the performance of carbon-based energy storage devices in terms of their impact on: (a) hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity; (b) wettability; (c) double-layer capacitance and pseudo-capacitance; and (d) solid electrolyte interface (SEI) layer formation.

Practical uses of carbon materials as: (a) catalysts for electro-reduction of oxygen and sulfur; and (b) host materials for Li (as in Li-ion anodes) and for hydrogen storage (both physical and electrochemical).

Biographical Sketch

Prof. Deyang Qu is Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department and Johnson Controls Endowed Chair Professor in Energy Storage Research in the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee ( He graduated with a B.Sc. in Electrochemistry with honors at the Department of Chemistry, Wuhan University, China in 1986. He continued his graduate studies at the University of Ottawa in Canada under the supervision of distinguished Professor B.E. Conway, and earned his Ph.D. in Electrochemistry in 1994. Among his honors, Prof. Qu counts having received the Electrochemical Society’s Battery Division Student Research Award in 1993. Right after his graduation, Prof. Qu started his career in the battery industry. He worked for twelve years as Senior Materials Chemist in Rayovac Battery Corporation before joining the Chemistry Dept. faculty of UMass Boston in 2005 and starting his current faculty position at UWM in 2015. Prof. Qu has developed well-funded research programs in the areas of Li-ion batteries, metal air batteries (Li-air and Zn-air), Lithium Sulfur batteries, Solid State Li batteries, lead acid batteries, alkaline batteries, fuel cells, supercapacitors and hydrogen storage materials. He has authored and coauthored a wide variety of publications, patents and review articles dealing with many aspects of energy storage and conversion materials and technologies.