School of Chemistry Researchers Recognized in RSC 2023 Awards

The Microporous Membranes Team, Materials Chemistry Horizon Prize: Stephanie L Kwolek Prize

The Microporous Membranes Team, Materials Chemistry Horizon Prize: Stephanie L Kwolek Prize

The team of academic and industrial partners from London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cambridge, and Illinois, has been recognised for its work to improve energy storage. The Horizon Prizes celebrate ground-breaking developments which push the boundaries of science.

Based at Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh, and Northern Illinois University, the Microporous Membranes team won the accolade for developing new membranes for organic-based redox-flow batteries (RFB). The high performance of these membranes could ultimately create more economically competitive battery systems for energy storage.

The group - which brought together minds with specialities in synthetic chemistry, computational chemistry and membrane science and engineering – also receive a trophy and a professionally produced video to celebrate the work.


We’re thrilled our work to develop a new generation of ion-exchange membranes is being recognised.

These microporous membranes can be used for a variety of applications, including in the storage of renewable energy, and so they have the potential to make a real positive impact in the fight against climate change.”


School of Chemistry Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Chunchun Ye arrived in Edinburgh in 2017 to pursue her PhD at the School of Chemistry. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate working with Professor Neil McKeown.  Her research and prize-winning poster for STEM for BRITAIN 2023 is based on her PhD research and focuses on the development of new ion-sieving polymer membranes for flow battery energy storage technology, which has the potential to integrate renewable but intermittent energy sources such as solar and wind power into the grid to enable widespread adoption of renewables and enable cheap backup power. This was an interdisciplinary research project and she collaborated closely with Dr Qilei Song's group at Imperial College London during her PhD to achieve this successful project. Other collaborators from the School of Chemistry team included Dr C. Grazia Bezzu, Dr Richard Malpass-Evans and Dr Rhodri Williams.

The successful development of the novel membranes was collaboration achieved in with engineers working in the group of Dr. Qilei Song at Imperial College, London, who hosted Chunchun for extended research visits to evaluate the performance of the batteries.

Our team successfully developed a new generation of ion-conducting membranes based on polymers of intrinsic microporosity, demonstrating their exceptional performance in organic-based RFB chemistries. This shows great promise for the development of inexpensive electrochemical energy storage and conversion technologies, which would support the storage of renewable energy from sources such as wind and solar and therefore help efforts to transition away from fossil fuels.