Scientist at Los Alamos recognized with prestigious Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship

Fellowship funds green energy projects

September 16, 2022

Jacob Spendelow

Jacob Spendelow, a materials scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has received an Electrochemical Society Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship for projects in green energy technology. Spendelow, whose research investigates electrochemical energy technologies including fuel cells and electrolyzers, is one of four fellows named this year.

The fellowship supports early career electrochemical researchers as they develop technological innovation around batteries, fuel cells, and carbon dioxide capture, conversion and utilization. It is offered by the Electrochemical Society and the Toyota Research Institute of North America, a division of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America.

“This award is a reflection of the innovative and important work being done by Jacob to realize much-needed efficiencies in fuel cell and electrolyzer technology,” said Andrew Dattelbaum, division leader for the Materials Physics and Applications Division at Los Alamos. “This award is also a wonderful recognition of Jacob’s past accomplishments in fuel cell research and development, as well as an indication of the potential his ideas have for transformational changes in the field.”

Spendelow’s work investigates electrolysis, the process by which electricity separates water into oxygen and hydrogen. Using renewable energy sources, electrolyzers have the potential to produce clean hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuel cells, which can power transportation and industry without creating greenhouse gas emissions. Spendelow’s focus on improving electrolysis efficiency centers on anode design, the critical component of the electrolyzer that enables hydrogen molecules to be split into protons and electrons.

“One of the limiting factors in electrolysis is the anode, which adds costs and reduces efficiency,” said Spendelow. “We’re trying to create an anode that has a lower content of precious metals such as iridium while also consuming less electricity and producing more hydrogen. Making electrolysis more efficient will reduce energy demand and make the technology less expensive, facilitating economically viable clean-hydrogen production.”  

Spendelow joined Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2006 as a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow, becoming a staff member in 2008. He earned a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2006, and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 2002 and 2003, respectively.