January 26, 2023: It is with sadness that BESB has to write that George Crabtree known to two generations of US and international battery researchers and industry figures passed away three days ago. He was 78.
George, a distinguished scientist for almost half a century, was best known for his work at the Argonne National Laboratory and his directorship of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) from 2012 where he was instrumental in providing much of the research in exploring the potential of next generation lithium ion battery electrochemistry and supercapacitors.
A host of tributes have been aired on the internet.
Michael Fetcenko, executive chairman at Sion Power Corporation, wrote, “George was one of those unique people in the battery field who was respected by all. He knew what he was talking about, an honest and straight shooter.”
Another posted: “George was a true thought leader and a role model. He was a wonderful gentleman, great scientist and an exceptional intellectual His efforts to propel Argonne’s leadership in energy storage research were crucial to putting the lab front and centre in the space. This is heart-breaking news and a huge loss.”
One research profile said during this time at the JCESR he led the way in four different fields.
• Multivalent batteries using multiply-charged ions, such as doubly charged magnesium, calcium, or zinc, rather than the singly charged lithium ion.
• Flow batteries that introduce chains of redox-active molecules dissolved in liquid electrolytes as replacements for solid electrodes.
• Lithium-sulfur batteries based on strong chemical bonds between lithium and low-cost sulfur.
• A novel hybrid design for a flow battery with air-breathing cathode and aqueous sulfur anode that has the lowest-cost rechargeable battery chemistry yet known.
George joined Argonne as an undergraduate in 1964. After earning his PhD he was promoted to assistant physicist in the Materials Science Division in 1974. He was appointed an Argonne Distinguished Fellow in 1990. He worked as associate director from 1993 to 2001, director from 2001 to 2008, and then associate director again from 2008 to 2012.
In addition to his work at Argonne, George was a professor of physics at Northern Illinois University from 1990 to 2003 and had been a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 2010.
He published more than 440 scientific papers on such topics as next-generation battery materials, sustainable energy, energy policy, materials science, nanoscale superconductors and magnets, and highly correlated electrons in metals.
In a moving tribute to his life and work an Argonne announcement finished with saying: “But perhaps more than his dedication to the global scientific community we will remember the grace, intelligence, and integrity he embodied as a leader, colleague, and friend.”