The Center for Electrochemical Science and Engineering (CESE) at the University of Virginia is built on the foundation of the Applied Electrochemistry Laboratories, a highly successful organized research unit since 1974. In 1986, the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) identified CESE as a Technology Development Center. CESE is a multi-disciplinary research effort which includes activities in the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering, as well as interactions with Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics. It is one of the nation's leading research centers of its kind.
CESE addresses a technologically critical field. It encompasses the broad field of electrochemical science and engineering which affects the performance and reliability of most products manufactured in the world today.
Corrosion, an electrochemical process, has a massive economic impact. Studies show that the annual cost of corrosion to the U.S. economy is on the order of $200 billion. Everyday examples include the corrosion of reinforcing bars in concrete for bridges and roadways as well as deterioration of metal structures in chemical and nuclear plants. Corrosion also has an impact in electric power generation, heat exchangers for refrigeration, shipping industries, food processing, transportation, packaging and assembly of electronic components, space exploration, and national defense.
Electrochemical reactions and phenomena are utilized in the purification and refining of metals, in the electrolytic production of commodity chemicals, in the conversion of chemical energy to electrical power in batteries and fuel cells, in the processing of materials for microelectronic devices, and in the use of electrodes to sense or monitor chemical species, and evaluate structural damage. Electrochemical operations encompass 1/9 of the American chemical process industry. Electrochemical production of chlorine and aluminum in themselves consume over 5 percent of the electrical power generated in the United States.
A major aspect of the Center is its graduate education function. Masters and doctoral degree programs are an integral part of the Center's research effort to provide graduate engineers with skills required to address the needs of industry. Select undergraduates are invited to become involved in Center research programs as research assistants. The research work performed often serves as the basis for the senior thesis required of U.Va. engineering students.
Support for the establishment of the Center for Electrochemical Science and Engineering has been provided by CIT, as well as industrial and federal grants. In addition, the School of Engineering and Applied Science has committed funding and space to the Center.