Postdoc Malavika Bagepalli Selected as SLAM Finalist

We congratulate Thermal Energy Group postdoc Malavika Bagepalli for being selected as one of 12 finalists for Berkeley Lab's 2023 Research SLAM! The Berkeley Lab Research SLAM is a competition where early-career and postdoc scientists at the lab are challenged to present three-minute presentations of their research in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Malavika had this to say about her selection:

"I am thrilled to have been chosen as one of the top 12 SLAM finalists! This is a fantastic learning opportunity for me to have discussions with a diverse group of people and effectively communicate my specialized research with a wider audience."

The SLAM live event will take place on September 21st, and the top 3 presenters will go on to participate in the Bay Area Research SLAM in October. Good luck, Malavika!


Congratulations Thermal Energy Group Graduates!

We would like to congratulate our recent graduates Dr. Drew Lilley, Dr. Divya Chalise, and Dr. Nate Weger! As members of the first PhD cohort of this group, we are incredibly proud of them and cannot wait to see what they will achieve!

Dr. Lilley is an Activate Fellow at Berkeley Lab's Cyclotron Road program and co-founder of Calion Technologies, a start-up company focusing on ionocaloric heating and cooling for next-generation refrigeration.

Dr. Chalise is a postdoctoral researcher Stanford University, where he is working under Professors Arun Majumdar and Yi Cui to study thermal science and electrochemistry.

Dr. Weger is a founder of Calectra, a start-up company focused on thermal energy storage for industrial heating.


Congrats Divya!

Divya Chalise, one of the first PhD cohort members of this group, has accepted a postdoc position at Stanford University. He will be co-advised by Professor Arun Majumdar and Professor Yi Cui, and will continue exploring the intersection of thermal science and electrochemistry. Congrats Divya, we're all very proud of you and excited to see what you accomplish next!


New Refrigeration Cycle

This cool new approach to refrigeration could replace harmful chemicals |  Ars Technica

Drew Lilley and Ravi Prasher have developed a new thermodynamic cycle, the ionocaloric refrigeration cycle! This cycle uses differing ion concentrations in materials to induce phase change, enabling cooling without the use of harmful refrigerants. This new concept has lots of potential, and we're excited to see where it goes! This technology was novel enough to warrant a Science paper, and you can read more here.


Group Lunch at Cornerstone

Thermal energy group members sitting at a table together for a picture at Cornerstone

Ravi recently announced that he has accepted the CTO position at Bloom Energy, and that he will be switching jobs at the end of the month. He took the whole group out to Cornerstone for a chance to get everybody together before he leaves. We had a great time, and the food and drinks were fantastic, and we wish Ravi the best in his new position! Thanks for all that you've done for all of us!


Goodbye Qiye!

Thermal energy group members standing together for a picture on the cafeteria patioToday, our group had a brunch get-together to say goodbye to Qiye Zheng, who's been a very important member of our group for 3 years. During his time here, Qiye has performed groundbreaking research in thermal metrology, and worked with and mentored lots of researchers and students. He is leaving to be a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. We'll miss you Qiye, and best of luck in your future endeavors!


Publication on Phase Change Materials Covered by American Institute of Physics

Image showing a box on the left depicting Sensible Heating, and illustrating heat capacity and thermal cinductivity, The center Blue box shows the Phase Change Material and the Latent heat of fusion, supercooling, and nucleation. The far right box depicts the thermochemical material, and the enthalpy and entropy of the reaction.

Delighted to announce that our group's latest publication, Phase change materials for thermal energy storage: A perspective on linking phonon physics to performance, authored by Drew Lilley et al, was recently covered by the American Institute of Physics.

This paper describes advances that our work has made in understanding the fundamental physics of phase change materials used for energy storage.

The link to the full text of the paper can be found here:

Way to go, Drew and team!


Thermal Energy End-of-Year Picnic

Image of lab group members lined up in front of some foliage, smiling.

Just before the winter break, the Thermal Energy Group had its first official get together since before the beginning of the pandemic. We gathered at Tilden Regional Park and shared pizza, drinks, conversation, and a little bit of sunlight. Most of us had not crossed paths much over the last couple of years, so this was a much needed chance to reconnect in person.

Many more like this coming in the near future! 


New Postdoc Opportunity: Catalysis and Thermochemical Reactor Design

We have an opening for a postdoc with expertise in the field of chemistry and chemical engineering, with a particular focus on catalysis and thermochemical reactor design. 
The Project: Cost-effective decarbonization of heat, which is the dominant source of energy for the industrial and building sector worldwide, is a grand scientific and technological challenge. Currently natural gas is the dominant source of heat in these sectors. Although CO2-free hydrogen is being considered as a potential alternative, infrastructure challenges related to transport and storage of hydrogen are enormous (e.g., Majumdar et al., Joule 5 (8), 1905-1908). Natural gas infrastructure and storage are already in place. Therefore, cost-effective synthetic natural gas derived from COcaptured from either point source or direct air capture combined with CO2 free hydrogen is a very lucrative option.
In this project we propose to use the Sabatier reaction to create synthetic natural gas. Since the Sabatier reaction is highly exothermic, the released heat can then be used to offset the energy requirement for either carbon capture or hydrogen production, making this overall process and system cost-effective. As the Sabatier reaction is highly temperature sensitive, the major associated challenge is related to temperature control. The higher temperature results in poisoning and sintering of catalysts making them inactive, thus lowering the yield.

This Postdoctoral Fellow will contribute to catalyst and overall reactor development to improve the reaction rate at lower temperatures, while preserving high activity and stability in an operating window up to 400 oC. 

For more information or to apply, please contact Dr. Suman Kaur at