This paper in Chemical Science written by Ellen Matson and co-workers describes a structure function approach to improving the properties of non-aqueous redox flow batteries based upon polyoxovanadate-alkoxides (POV-alkoxides). Given the importance of battery technology on society and sustainable chemistry, this article allows students to engage with a paper that could have broad implications in society. This LO highlights the electrochemical and chemical studies on these POV-alkoxides and how this work ties into green chemistry principles and global sustainability initiatives.
This is a literature discussion that dives into green chemistry, sustainability and redox flow batteries. This LO helps students to identify the key features of a redox flow battery. It also highlights batteries broadly defined and then has the students work through standard alkaline batteries, lithium ion batteries and then flow batteries.
This LO was used in a 400-level elective course on green chemistry and sustainability.
Define redox flow batteries
•Outline the design features of a redox flow battery
•Compare and contrast a redox flow battery to traditional battery
•Apply concepts of green chemistry principles to article
•Summarize the key findings in the paper on studying an energy carrier for redox flow batteries
The students found this to be an interesting and challenging paper. I did provide the students with a video (not provided herein) that I made on batteries and slides on the background information on flow batteries (see Introduction to batteries LO). We also did not have a discussion on electrochemistry so we did discuss that in class as well using the Cyclic Voltammetry LO.
The students in this class did not all have an inorganic chemistry course so we did not dive into the solid state chemistry as much. That aspect could be added. We did cover catalysis and catalytic cycles so I was able to incorporate electron counting into the exercise.
I have the students read the article and answer the questions before class. The class period is used to reflect and discuss responses before final answers are submitted for grading.
This was done via remote teaching and worked very well.
Since this was used as a cumulative final assessment, many of the questions in the assignment were not directly obtained from the paper. The students had to tie in resources we used all semester along with additional findings they gathered to learn about the topics. I have included the resources that we used on the key for faculty to use at their discretion.
I used this for my final exam in my sustainable chemistry class. The students came in with answers to the questions and then worked in groups to discuss their answers and modify them. They students were able to resubmit final answers with changes highlighted for grading.
The average grade on this was 90% after answers were discussed and adjusted. Students really liked this assessment style (vs final exam). It allowed them to engage with a topic that they found interesting and globally important. The most challenging aspects were the electrochemical findings but after discussing the students generally got it.