On Tuesday 7 February, Professor Peter Bruce, Wardlaw Professor of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, was presented with the inaugural UK Science Award for his work on lithium batteries.
Professor Bruce is a material chemist, and focuses his research on developing new materials. His research on lithium batteries has yielded two-fold results. Firstly, the battery’s life is longer, which means the same battery can run for longer before going flat. Secondly the batteries will be able to yield a greater level of power to the devices they are powering than previous lithium batteries.
This work has profound consequences for many industries which use solid state lithium batteries, such as mobile phone and portable computer manufacturers, and also, perhaps more importantly, the industries looking into renewable energy and carbon neutrality.
Professor Bruce said: “New generations of rechargeable lithium batteries could extend the range of electric vehicles enabling them to travel further than current models before needing recharged, making them a more realistic option for drivers who wish to travel greater distances.
“They could also help to balance the intermittent supply of electricity from renewable sources – such as wind and wave power – with consumer demand, a key challenge in making renewable energy viable and which would provide enormous potential for Scotland which has an increasing emphasis on renewable energies.”
The wide-ranging applications for products of this research have not been lost on the government. UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said: “It is important that we take every opportunity to recognise the wealth of science talent and expertise we have in the UK.
“Professor Bruce’s work on low-carbon vehicles is not only important for our world-leading research base, but also has the potential to drive growth and innovation in industry.”
Professor Bruce was chosen for the award by a panel selected by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). The chair of this panel was Professor Lesley Yellowlees, President-Elect of the Royal Society of Chemistry, who said, “Professor Bruce is a highly motivated, creative and versatile scientist with a real feeling for science at the highest level and for finding innovative application of energy storage materials developed in his laboratory.
“He is an enterprising and brilliant scientist who gives inspiring leadership to innovative, cutting-edge scientific research with clear practical relevance.”
The award is sponsored by AkzoNobel, the world’s largest paints and coatings company, and owners of Dulux, Polycell and Cuprinol.