Electrochemistry Northwest was hosted online through GoToWebinar on Wednesday 1st July 2020. It is traditionally a free informal meeting held by the electrochemistry community in the northwest, coming together to discuss their latest work and ideas in the field of electrochemistry. The event usually has a strong early career and PhD focus, and the 2020 edition was no exception.
The event attracted 93 participants (an increase on the previous year), with attendance remaining reasonably constant throughout the day (see Figure 1) with a slight drop during lunch.
The final programme for Electrochemistry Northwest consisted of two plenary speakers, two early career presenters, three PhD presenters, five flash presentations and three talks from suppliers. The programme is provided in Figure 2.
Plenary 1 - Angel Cuesta, University of Aberdeen
Angel Cuesta told our younger scientists to keep learning the science, but not to forget about the other skills including research management, writing and presenting among many other things.
His work investigates the effect of ion radius on CO2 reduction – ion size is linked to localized pH change at the surface, which dictates CO2 conversion efficiency. He also discussed surface enhanced ATR spectroscopy and its application in monitoring Helmholtz characteristics.
Two early careers provided 15 minute talks on their latest research. Yang Xu (UCL) Provided evidence that crystallinity of MoS2 has an effect on ion intercalation – affects power densities of MoS2 if used as battery electrodes. Yang was recently awarded an EPSRC New Investigator award for his work and was appealing for interest in his postdoc position, which was advertised to the attendees on his behalf. Yagya Regmi (MMU) presented work on designing iridium catalysts with reduced loading – he suggested that Iridium loading on top of a gold or platinum surface can actually enhance the catalytic properties for the OER.
Five flash presentations were delivered by our participants. Bobby Crapnell (MMU, on behalf of Marloes Peeters, Newcastle) reported on the heat transfer method for detection of targeted compounds using MIPs. Laura Martinez (Aberdeen) gave a presentation on electrochemical conversion of complex alcohols such as glycerol. Bruna Baggio (Liverpool) discussed x-ray voltammetry on single crystals, while Ian Bennett-Wright (Edinburgh) presented his work on electrochemical gels. Rowan Hanson, a late inclusion, discussed improving the lithium-ion battery.
Three presentations from equipment suppliers were given. Steve Fryatt (Alvatek), Andy Savage (BioLogic) and Joanne Holmes (Metrohm) all presented their latest products and how they can help researchers in the electrochemistry community.
Plenary 2 - Mark Symes, University of Glasgow
Mark told some stories about how things don’t always work out as expected – he begun with a story about how his student thought they had shown oxygen evolution using lead oxide coated electrodes, but actually it turned out to be impurities of Ni in the electrolyte that were anodizing on the electrode and causing oxygen evolution. He then discussed how works on nitrogen reduction and persulfate generation didn’t go as planned, but still resulted in some tangible output.
Three PhD researchers gave their presentations in the afternoon to finish the session. Franziska Boβl (Edinburgh) gave a presentation on piezo-electrocatalysis, which is proving to be a potentially contentious field in electrochemistry but requires much investigation and conversation in order to come closer to understanding it. Aranzazu Carmona Orbezo (Manchester), who was a returning presenter to this event after being awarded a prize the previous year, presented her latest work in flow electrodes. She discussed how using non-Newtonian fluids in flow electrodes presented challenges for practical application in desalination, but also presented some potential solutions to desalination problems. Finally, Laurence Savignac (Lancaster) joined the meeting from Canada to discuss her work lithium iron phosphate batteries.
An exit survey was offered but only three responses were given. Two people were impressed by the event, its communications and the quality f speakers and the handout, while one contributor was less than unimpressed.
The event was cost neutral.
The event was hosted online through GoToWebinar, attracting several researchers and attendees. The event was successful in giving early careers and PhD students a sounding board to disseminate their latest work. It is hoped that in the future a different institution will take the lead in organizing the event, however Ed thinks that AMCG should continue to support this event financially.
Dr Edward Randviir
Manchester Metropolitan University
AMCG committee member
8th July 2020