1 December, 2021
Alumna Dr Shalini Divya of affiliated spinout TasmanIon has been awarded the 2021 KiwiNet Breakthrough Innovator Award at the ninth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards for her work on new aluminium-ion battery technology, offering a safer, sustainable, cost-effective alternative for grid storage and portable applications.
The awards are designed to celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation within New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations.
Dr Divya's work into more sustainable battery technology stemmed from her energy poverty awareness. Energy poverty affects more than 400 million people, and limits access to food and water, education and employment and negatively impacts health and hygiene.
Shalini's research breakthrough came when researching more sustainable battery technology for her PhD. She discovered a new cathode material for aluminium-ion batteries that outperforms most other energy storage materials in aluminium-ion battery literature. Aluminium-ion batteries use electrolytes that are non-flammable and therefore suited to a range of applications. In addition, aluminium is the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust, non-toxic, and easily recyclable.
After coming to Aotearoa New Zealand to undertake her PhD at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, initially under a former Director of the MacDiarmid Institute, Professor Thomas Nann, and later with MacDiarmid Institute Emeritus Investigator Professor Jim Johnston, Dr Divya worked closely with Wellington UniVentures to drive the project to the investor level, progressing the establishment of a new spin-out company, TasmanIon. Shalini has also secured a place on KiwiNet's Emerging Innovator Programme to enhance her entrepreneurial skills and connections and advance the commercialisation of her new technology.