Graduate student receives prestigious scholarship to use math modelling to improve batteries

PhD student Laura Keane, supervised by Professor Iain Moyles in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, has been awarded a prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship to develop mathematical models to improve the design and safety of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Keane, who is also a Carswell Scholar in the Faculty of Science, was among just four recipients from York University.

LIBs are rechargeable batteries that are commonly used in portable devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, and they are expected to power technologies of the future, including electric vehicles. However, battery lifetime, safety and cost are still issues that must be addressed, and battery design and prototyping can be expensive due to the cost of materials, labor, and testing procedures.

“Mathematical modelling can help tackle these challenges because it is inexpensive and can provide insight into the important electrochemical processes of battery operations,” said Keane. “I will use mathematical modelling tools to study factors that can hinder the performance of LIBs, such as short-circuiting, overheating and capacity fading.”

The Government of Canada launched the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships program in 2008 to strengthen Canada’s ability to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. The scholarships are valued at $50,000 per year for three years. Vanier Scholars demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health.