Seminar Schedule

Unleashing the Full Potential of Batteries: Modeling, Learning, and Control

Scott Moura, Associate Professor | Director of eCAL, University of California, Berkeley


Batteries are ubiquitous. However, today’s batteries are expensive, range-limited, power-restricted, die too quickly, charge too slowly, and susceptible to safety issues. For these reasons, advanced model-based battery management systems (BMS) are of extreme interest. In this talk, we discuss eCAL’s recent research electrochemical-based BMS, which are modeled by nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs). Specifically, we discuss (i) optimal experiment design for learning, and (ii) optimal safe-fast charging control. Finally, we close with exciting new perspectives for next-generation battery systems.


Scott Moura is an Associate Professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Director of the Energy, Controls, & Applications Lab (eCAL) at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a faculty member at the Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute. He received the B.S. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2006, 2008, and 2011, respectively, all in mechanical engineering. From 2011 to 2013, he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Cymer Center for Control Systems and Dynamics, University of California, San Diego. In 2013, he was a Visiting Researcher at the Centre Automatique et Systèmes, MINES ParisTech, Paris, France. His research interests include control, optimization, and machine learning for batteries, electrified vehicles, and distributed energy resources.

Dr. Moura is a recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, Carol D. Soc Distinguished Graduate Student Mentor Award, the Hellman Fellowship, the O. Hugo Shuck Best Paper Award, the ACC Best Student Paper Award (as advisor), the ACC and ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Conference Best Student Paper Finalist (as student and advisor), the UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the University of Michigan Distinguished ProQuest Dissertation Honorable Mention, the University of Michigan Rackham Merit Fellowship, and the College of Engineering Distinguished Leadership Award.

Harvesting Energy from Aluminum Waste

Peter Godart, PhD Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT


Aluminum is the third most abundant element on earth and is widely used in nearly every industry. In nature, aluminum is found primarily in its various oxidized forms as bauxite ore, and reducing this ore is a highly energy- and carbon-intensive process. Currently global recycling rates are limited by complications with sorting waste by alloy content, lack of economic incentive, and the recent restriction of waste exports to other countries. As a result, several million tons of aluminum are landfilled each year in the US alone, leaving a significant amount of potential energy sitting idle and unused. A new alternative strategy to managing this waste is to turn it into an energy-dense fuel that reacts exothermically with water to produce hydrogen and boehmite, a valuable byproduct used in various industrial and pharmaceutical processes. When exposed to air, bulk aluminum develops an oxide layer that prevents it from reacting with water at practical temperatures; however, recent research at MIT has shown that a minimal surface treatment of gallium and indium can disrupt the oxide layer at the grain boundaries, allowing this reaction to proceed to >95% completion. In this talk, the science underlying this treatment process will be presented, as well as several systems we have developed that use this fuel to generate electricity up to the 10 kW scale and power seawater desalination.


Peter Godart is a fourth-year PhD candidate at MIT in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He holds B.S. degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering and an M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from MIT. After earning his bachelor’s degrees in 2015, Peter spent two years as a research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he worked daily operations for the Curiosity Mars Rover, qualified hardware for the Mars 2020 Rover (Perseverance), and led a research team in the development of a new aluminum-based fuel for a lander that may one day go to Europa, one of Jupiter’s icy moons. Now at MIT, Peter’s research explores new ways of extracting energy from aluminum waste to power electricity generation and seawater desalination in the aftermath of natural disasters, and in general he is interested in developing technologies that help solve problems that contribute to or are caused by climate change. In addition to his research, Peter is an instructor for one of the capstone mechanical engineering design classes at MIT, and he also teaches thermodynamics to high school seniors from underrepresented and underserved communities through MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Programs. Beyond academia, Peter is also an avid jazz pianist and composer and has traveled the world using music as a bridge to both educate and learn from communities impacted by the climate crisis.

Application-Driven Requirements for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Dr. Aziz Abdellahi

Principal Scientist, A123 Systems LLC


Striving for compliance with international CO2 emissions targets, the global automotive fleet is trending towards decarbonization through the rapid electrification of transport. This will be achieved not only through the increased adoption of high voltage electrified vehicles (EVs and PHEVs), but also through the pairing of 48V battery packs with increasingly efficient internal combustion engine (ICE) designs implemented in mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEVs).

Battery packs for EVs and MHEVs both rely on lithium ion (Li-ion) battery technology and often use similar battery chemistries, but due to the varying pack function in the vehicle, the cell operating conditions (and therefore performance requirements) are radically different. In other words, a similarly sized and driven vehicle will impose different demands on the battery pack depending on the electrification topology.

In this talk, we will map how different pack function (e.g. regenerative braking, start/stop, electronic accessories, electric boost and propulsion) translates to pack sizing, operating temperature, mean and peak C-rate, and state-of-charge swing. Implications on testing and evaluation of battery life will be discussed, with special attention devoted to the importance of designing and interpreting application-relevant cell-level cycling tests.


Aziz Abdellahi works as a Principal Scientist at A123 Systems, a world leader in energy storage for automotive and grid applications. Aziz is currently leading A123’s Advanced Simulation team, whose mission is to support the design of next-generation Li-ion batteries using multi-scale modeling. His expertise includes atomistic modeling, electrochemical modeling, equivalent circuit modeling, battery life modeling, statistical pack analysis and vehicle-level modeling. Aziz holds a PhD in Materials Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ceder group) and has authored 14 peer- reviewed publications in the field of Li-ion batteries. He was the recipient of the “Norman Hackerman Young Author Award” (Electrochemical Society, 2014), and the recipient of SAE’s “Outstanding Oral Presentation Award” (Society of Automotive Engineers, 2018).

1/18/19: Prof. Byungha Shin, KAIST

1/25/19: Nick Brady/Jack Davis, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

2/15/19: Prof. Daniel Esposito, Solar Fuels Engineering Lab at Columbia

3/1/19: Jake Russell/Anna Dorfi, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

3/15/19: Alex Couzis, CCNY/Urban Electric Power

4/26/19: Jon Vardner/Steven Denny, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

5/10/19: Qian Cheng/Brian Tackett, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

9/20/19: Prof. Daniel Steingart, Co-Director of CEEC

9/27/19: Aykut Aksit, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

                  Rebecca Ciez, Princeton postdoctoral fellow

10/11/19: Dr. Nongnuch Artrith, Research Scientist at Columbia

10/25/19: Prof. Lauren Marbella, The Marbella Lab at Columbia

11/1/19: Emily Hsu, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

                  Dr. Amir Zangiabadi, Director of Electron Microscopy Labs, CNI

11/22/19: Prof. Bruce Usher, Director of Tamer Center at Columbia

12/6/19: Dr. Kathy Ayers, VP of R&D at Proton Onsite / Nel Hydrogen

1/17/20: Prof. Jin Suntivich, Cornell University

2/7/20: Prof. Yuan Yang, Yang Research Group at Columbia

2/14/20: Darren Hammell, Executive VP of Business Development, Princeton Power Systems, Visiting Fellow, Princeton University

4/10/20: Prof. Dan Steingart, Co-Director of CEEC

4/17/20: Jianzhou Qu, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

4/24/20: Wesley Chang, Ph.D. Student at Princeton University

5/1/20: Karthik Mayilvahanan, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

6/26/20: Rob Mohr, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

                  Sophie Lee, Ph.D. Student at Drexel University

7/10/20: Luis Rebollar, Ph.D. Student at Drexel University

                  Dr. Oliver Harris, Tang Lab at Drexel University