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Bruce Presents Webinar: Powering Up for Space Travel

Dr. Mike Zimmerman of Ionic Materials.

One day in the not too distant future, humans will reach for Mars—a seven-month journey each way. What will power people there and back is a revolutionary, near-indestructible battery possessing more energy than any other battery currently in existence on planet Earth.

Meet one of the scientists guiding its invention, the innovator and CEO driving its productionand a senior member of the NASA leadership team who will determine how this extraordinary battery will catapult mankind toward the stars and improve life on Earth on Thursday, August 6, 2020, 7:00 – 8:30 pm, when the Bruce Museum hosts a Zoom webinar: Energy Storage Technologies for Earth—and Other Planets.

Our expert panelists: Dr. Steve Greenbaum is CUNY Distinguished Professor of Physics at Hunter College, whose lab investigates new materials for improved electrochemical energy storage. He is working on a revolutionary new type of battery that Dr. Mike Zimmerman, Founder and CEO of MA-based Ionic Materials, will produce for the EV and Grid Storage markets. Joining the conversation will be Dr. Will West, Group Supervisor of the Electrochemical Technologies Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). In addition to his R&D activities in energy storage/conversion, he is the Cognizant Engineer for the rover and descent stage batteries on the JPL’s Mars 2020 mission.

The August 6 Bruce Presents webinar will begin with a brief introduction by Dr. Greenbaum, followed by short presentations each from Dr. Zimmerman and Dr. West. These experts will then open the conversation to participants, with a Q&A session moderated by Dr. Greenbaum, Bruce Museum Curator of Science Dr. Daniel Ksepka, and Leonard Jacobs, producer of the Bruce Presents series.

Participation in the virtual August 6 Bruce Presents on Zoom, for the benefit of the Bruce Museum, is $10 for Museum members and $15 non-members. To reserve a place, visit or call 203-869-0376. A link to join the online conversation will be sent to registered attendees one hour prior to the program. Support for Bruce Presents, the Bruce Museum’s monthly series featuring thought leaders in the fields of art and science, is generously provided by Northern Trust and Berkley One, a Berkley Company.

Here’s the challenge our speakers will address: Lithium-ion battery technology was introduced more than 25 years ago, and it is reaching its limits. The market requires better and higher performing battery technology. As anyone who has read the widely publicized incidents involving exploding smartphones, toys, electric vehicles, and aircraft may know, lithium-ion batteries and the liquid electrolytes they employ pose both a safety risk and are nearing their theoretical performance limits.

The solution you will hear about on August 6 promises greater safety, higher performance, and lower cost for a new generation of batteries. Through the invention of a novel solid polymer electrolyte material that conducts ions at room temperature, Ionic Materials is on the verge of revolutionizing battery technology. By creating a truly solid state battery with an energy storage cabability exceeds those of traditional liquid systems over a wide range of temperatures, we will soon enable wide-scale electrification of transportation, and greater efficiencies in harnessing renewable intermittent energy resources like wind and solar for grid storage. Also, the long trip to Mars will require the safety that batteries like this provide.

To that end, the significant challenges of operating spacecraft in extreme environments on Mars and other planetary surfaces require novel battery solutions. Representative engineering and science aspects of designing and infusing new battery technologies for NASA applications will be discussed in the presentation.

To read more about our panelists, please click here.