Chemical Engineering / Material Science
Internship at Power Systems R&D Center
Why did you want to intern for Sumitomo Electric?
I am very interested in grid energy storage technologies such as redox flow batteries, and wanted to get some experience working with them. Sumitomo Electric is one of the leading developers and installers of flow batteries worldwide, so I felt like I could learn a lot from their expertise.
What do you do in the internship?
I research dimensionally stable electrodes for use in Sumitomo Electric's redox flow battery systems. Since flow battery systems are designed to have 20+ year lifetimes, every part of the system must meet that level of durability. The goal is to make an electrode that facilitates reaction, while offering a long service life and low resistance at low costs.
My work on the project was to help develop and characterize the materials that could be used to make electrodes that meet this goal.
What has been the most interesting you have learned in this internship?
On a technical side, being able to see how the flow battery technology is taken from the smallest of flow cells to being implemented into practical manufactured systems has been very impressive. The experience seeing large scale systems and their requisite manufacturing facilities is really exciting, and is only possible at a place that is on the leading edge of the field.
It has been also interesting to learn about Japanese culture. My mentors have been very willing to teach me about Japanese culture. From showing around Osaka after work, to teaching me about Japanese history, to taking me to see Taiko, to teaching me phrases in Japanese, being able to learn about Japan from the people I work with has been fantastic.
How can the internship help shape your career?
I am interested in going to graduate school to work on energy storage technologies, so this internship was a good experience to get an understanding of the challenges that need to be surmounted to make this technology as effective as possible. Additionally, this internship provided me with a lot of skills that I would need to work on energy storage technologies in the future.
A message to students who consider participating in the internship.
This internship is a good way to see how cutting edge research and development is conducted in industry. There are a lot of very intelligent, experienced people working at Sumitomo Electric, and you can learn lot from speaking with them and watching how they approach and surmount problems.
This is also a great way to gain in depth exposure to Japanese culture and meet interesting people.