Skoltech PhD student wins prize, woos industry with innovative flow battery research

Pugach, pictured with his poster, and the award he won for it. Photos: Mikhail Pugach // Skoltech.

Pugach, pictured with his award-winning poster (left) and with conference secretary Anthony Price (left). Photos: Mikhail Pugach // Skoltech.

Skoltech PhD student Mikhail Pugach won a top poster prize at this year’s International Flow Battery Forum (IFBF), the biggest conference of its kind.

Flow batteries have been championed for their relatively high storage capacity, which enables users to maintain increased control over energy flow and electricity storage.

Pugach has dedicated his PhD research to the vanadium redox flow battery – which uses vanadium ions to facilitate the energy storage process. 

At the IFBF, he delivered a poster presentation based on a chapter from his PhD thesis dealing with the numerical modeling of internal processes within vanadium redox flow battery cells. In particular, he proposed a novel method of simulating battery performance.

Jury members at the forum were particularly impressed with the discussion Pugach’s poster generated.

“I think they liked the way I communicate – how I explained my topic. Lots of people came to me and asked me questions, and I tried to explain my research to them as best I could. If they were new to the topic, I gave them introductory explanations. Because of this, even people from other fields were interested in and impressed by my results,” he said in a recent interview.

And this wasn’t the only reward he walked away with.

“I met a lot of interesting people there – people from leading research groups in this field. In addition to having many fascinating discussions, I met several important contacts from industry with whom I am discussing possible collaborations,” he said.

He noted that networking with manufacturing professionals provided an excellent opportunity for him to gauge the latest trends in the sector, enabling him to better tailor his future research to industry needs.

Professor Keith Stevenson, Director of Skoltech’s Centers for Energy Systems and Electrochemical Energy Storage, was proud, but not surprised that Pugach – his supervisee – had been honored for his research.

“His model enables the simulation of the performance of a redox flow battery – in particular, how the crossover of ions leads to voltage and capacity loss upon charge and discharge of the battery. This simulation makes it possible to predict systems performance over the lifetime of the device. His model is unlike any of the other quantitative models that are currently available. I think that’s why he got the best poster award, and gained so much interest from potential collaborators,” Stevenson said.

An article highlighting Pugach’s latest research was recently published in the academic journal Applied Energy.


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