Mike Tucker’s lab develops electrochemical devices at all stages from inception to product prototyping. Lab research activities focus on resource-efficient development of new devices and concepts, with a clear focus on the critical development path towards commercialization. In-situ electrochemical testing, advanced diagnostics, and post-mortem analysis are used to determine limitations to cell performance and lifetime and inform efforts to improve device performance metrics, cost, and manufacturability. Much of our research is sponsored by or in collaboration with industrial partners.
In addition to hands-on technical R&D, Mike’s entrepreneurial activities are also focused on moving technology out of the Lab and into the marketplace. He has authored many patents, co-founded a start-up company, and led Customer Discovery efforts for various Lab technology teams.
Current Technical Focus Areas
SOFC: Metal-supported Solid Oxide Fuel Cells are rugged, cost-effective cells that are well-suited for portable and mobile applications requiring abuse tolerance, rapid start-up capability, and fuel flexibility. LBNL has been a leader in this field since the early 2000’s, and Mike has been the key hands-on developer since 2004, and wrote the first comprehensive review of the field in 2010. He now leads projects aiming to produce direct-propane-powered personal power product prototypes, and ethanol-fueled traction-power cell technology for SOFC-Battery hybrid passenger vehicles.
Redox Flow Batteries: We optimize cell architecture, cell materials, electrolyte compositions, component processing and operating protocols to improve cell performance, efficiency, and cycle-life. The principle systems we have studied are: hydrogen-bromine, hydrogen-cerium, hydrogen-iron, and chlorate
Low-cost battery for the Developing World: We have developed a low-cost, non-toxic battery composed of off-the-shelf components that can be safely disposed of after use. The primary active materials are iron foil and ferric sulfate. The user assembles the components before use, adds water to dissolve the catholyte salts, and uses the battery for LED lighting or cell-phone charging. Our group invented this technology and has produced consumer product prototypes in conjunction with the UCB Capstone engineering program.
PEM fuel cells: Mike assists the Weber group with diagnostics development and cell testing.
Mike also has past experience with Lithium Battery materials, Direct Methanol Fuel Cells, NMR Spectroscopy, liquid-fluidized bed separation processes, and ceramic filter development.
Point Source Power: PSP was spun out of LBNL to commercialize metal-supported SOFC personal power products for the millions of developing world households that cook with charcoal. Mike was co-Founder and CTO, and had responsibilities in cell development, product development, and prototyping for field trials.
Customer Discovery: Following the Lean Startup approach to developing product-market fit, Mike has helped various technical teams refine their value proposition with customer interviews, ecosystem mapping, business model canvas generation, and Customer Discovery strategy.
Recent Honors and Awards
LBNL Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement in Technology Transfer
R&D 100 Award for Point Source Power’s VOTO product
ProtoLabs “Cool Idea” Award for VOTO product
Berkeley Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, Clean Technology Innovation 1st Prize
2002, Postdoc Materials Chemistry, Uppsala University, Sweden
2001, Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, UC Berkeley
1997, B.S. Chemical Engineering, Brown University