As part of the knowledge economy, individuals with a Ph.D. desire an in-depth knowledge within a specific field. To begin this journey, all Ph.D. or Doctor of Philosophy candidates must have very specific criteria to enter the doctoral program including a masters degree, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that describes why they are seeking a PhD, what they have done so far to prepare themselves, and what goals they plan to achieve later.
For Begüm Bozkaya, her pursuit of a doctoral degree program was a way to explore advancements, provide more areas for career opportunity and continue to grow professionally.
Because of her appreciation in the study of electrochemistry during grad school that focused on batteries including Li-ion and carbon research, Fraunhofer Institute approached her about a position to work on advanced lead acid batteries. The opportunity was for more than just a Ph.D., as it was a complete package that involved a paid position on industrial projects. The program through Fraunhofer kept Bozkaya busy working on various carbon related industry projects, participating in networking and conferences, interacting with the lead battery industry, and of course spending time on her own studies.
“It’s important to network just as much as it is to allow time for your personal and social life,” Bozkaya said reflecting on her work-life balance. “You need to keep the bigger picture in mind. I recommend networking to help you widen your perspectives by meeting new people to collaborate with. During this time, she recommends shaping and structuring your thesis.
Bozkaya describes the path to her Ph.D. with a range of emotions and ultimately perseverance in overcoming a program that challenges you each day. She explained that there was a period toward the end of the program where her work was consuming, her ability to find focus time to write was limited, and she began to feel overwhelmed. She thought about quitting.
Instead, she found the motivation to keep going by just doing a little more each day.
“When you feel like you don’t want to continue in the program, give yourself one more push. You owe it to yourself. Then you will start to see how those little steps will move you forward. And the result will be rewarding.”
Her advice for anyone entering a doctoral program is to believe in yourself.
She warned that at some point you may start to feel overwhelmed for any number of reasons, and you might want to reconsider the research path. “That is the time to really lean into the support from your friends, family and colleagues,” encouraged Bozkaya.
That support and effort paid off and finally put her over the hump. And along with encouragement from both an old colleague and her family, Bozkaya could finally grasp her goal.
“The day of my defense was filled with emotion because of all the ups and downs it took to get this point,” said Bozkaya.
She completed her defense with an excellent score - a 1.0!
After an academic journey that started with a Bachelors in Chemistry, then a Masters of Materials Science, Begüm Bozkaya finally defended her Ph.D. thesis entitled, “Influence of Carbon Additives on the Electrochemical Performance of Modern Lead-Acid Batteries” on May 10, 2023.
Now Bozkaya continues her interest in materials science and batteries. In 2021, she was offered a role as Technical Manager for the Consortium for Battery Innovation. Bozkaya works with colleagues to secure EU funding projects and is responsible for CBI’s technical program in Europe – including workshops and conferences. Catch one of her presentations at an upcoming CBI conference and be sure to congratulate her on the new doctorate.
A key goal of CBI’s Technical Roadmap to improve the DCA of lead batteries, a technical parameter highly relevant for the automotive industry which encompasses lower emission vehicles such as start-stop, micro-hybrids and electric vehicles.
The CBI-funded project "Best practice of cell testing for EFB regarding DCA and high-temperature durability" delivers a significant improvement of DCA while also delivering uncompromised water consumption and improved corrosion durability.
With project partners from across the European value chain – universities TU Berlin and Fraunhofer ISC, car company Ford and battery manufacturer Moll in– this project encompasses the diverse players involved in Europe’s innovative lead battery industry.
As the automotive industry continues to move towards decarbonisation and electrification, new functions are required to increase safety and comfort. “These trends impose growing demands on the energy storage devices used within automobiles. In order to take advantage of these opportunities and defend against competition from other technologies, the lead battery must continue to adapt and improve”, explains Sophia Bauknecht from TU Berlin.
This project in particular is essential for the growing start-stop and micro-hybrid market as “Dynamic Charge Acceptance (DCA) and water loss are critical factors for the efficiency and lifetime of start-stop batteries, and they need to be improved to stay competitive with other battery technologies”, says Prof. Dr Julia Kowal from TU Berlin.
“Changes in the material synthesis and preparation are needed for cost-efficient and faster material developments. Especially if it works to measure the DCA from a simple measurement of a reduced size cell, improvement of DCA can become much faster because only small cells are needed for material screening and then only the promising materials need to be scaled up to complete batteries”, she continued.
Lead batteries are a vital part of automotive applications, including SLI, start-stop and micro-hybrid applications. As the industry shifts towards electrification, this technology will continue to evolve and adapt in order to provide better safety and security features through secondary low-voltage EV batteries, EFB and AGM batteries.
Pre-competitive research projects underway through CBI’s Technical Program, like this one, not only help CBI to develop better practices for the industry, but also strengthen the collaborative work between automotive manufacturers and battery application specialists to continue the innovation push driven by CBI.
Watch Part II video of CBI's visit to TU Berlin
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One of the highest priority goals set out in CBI’s Technical Roadmap is improving DCA –Dynamic Charge Acceptance for automotive lead batteries.
It’s a key area of work that CBI works with universities, research institutes, battery companies and car manufacturers around the world to tackle.
At TU Berlin, an ongoing research project has identified that on a battery level “single-pulse test for DCA and continuous overcharging for water consumption bear only weak correlation with results obtained under field conditions, particularly when most advanced (high DCA) battery technologies are addressed”, says Sophia Baucknecht, Graduate Research Scientist from TU Berlin.
As part of the research team made up of TU Berlin, Fraunhofer ISC, Ford and Moll, Sophia’s research aims for a better alignment and co-operation between car makers and battery application specialists.
With what aim? To establish best practice cell-testing for EFB regarding DCA and high-temperature durability.
These two metrics are vital for the enhanced performance of automotive lead batteries used across the global vehicle fleet, such as start-stop and micro-hybrids.
The research is increasing the efficiency of lead batteries by “finding out if lab-cell tests of DCA and water loss can be scaled up to a complete battery”, explains Prof. Dr Julia Kowal from TU Berlin.
If there’s higher efficiency and better charge acceptance, “less energy is lost during charging and braking and so the fuel consumption is reduced”, she continues. This is a critical step for automotive battery innovation towards decarbonisation and electrification for more fuel-efficient cars with a lower carbon footprint.
Watch the first video on CBI's visit to TU Berlin:
Interested in related topics?
The Global Lead Battery Innovation Conference and Expo (ELBC), co-organised for the first time by CBI, took place in Lyon, France (6-9 Sept).
As a warm-up to the main conference, CBI brought together lead battery industry experts from all over the world, to take part in:
On day one of ELBC, CBI’s Director (Dr Alistair Davison) set out a positive assessment of the opportunities for advanced lead batteries highlighting CBI’s roadmap, which charts a path to a new generation of batteries in a session dedicated to Markets and Trends.
And CBI technical experts, including Begüm Bozkaya, Technical Manager, outlined the CBI technical program with an insightful presentation focusing on improving energy storage systems and automotive batteries as key innovations in the industry.
To promote CBI’s Technical Roadmap and its work in driving innovation across the industry Dr Matthew Raiford, CBI’s Senior Technical Manager updated delegates. And in a major announcement, Dr Carl Telford impressed ELBC attendees with news of a 10 million Euro funding award for an innovative lead-battery powered microgrid project in Africa, brokered by CBI.
In his presentation entitled « Opportunities for Lead Batteries in Energy Storage Systems », Dr Telford spoke about the use of lead batteries for sustainable energy projects and presented for the first time this novel project funded by the European Commission that gathers lead batteries, renewables, and hydrogen.
As always at ELBC there were many networking opportunities, with delegates able to meet face to face for the first time in four years. The well-attended gala dinner took place at La Sucrière, and WGBI’s (Women in the Global Battery Industry) held its first meeting in Europe. This important initiative aims to bring more women to our industry and empower them through networking sessions, workshops, and mentoring opportunities.
CBI is very much looking forward to seeing all these fantastic attendees and delegates again at ELBC 2024 in Milan, Italy.
Watch the Event video:
Following this year’s International Women’s Day, we’ve interviewed some of the faces behind the communication strategies of our industry. People who work daily to demonstrate the effort of an industry towards climate goals, such as decarbonisation and electrification, while sharing messages of the industry’s work to achieve sustainable targets, science progress and innovation.
These are the professionals who are responsible for the communications of a long-standing industry, so essential in the digital world. They deal with a considerable amount of daily information and they’re able to transform the complex world of science to policymakers, business people and citizens in dynamic and understandable ways. And guess what? Many of them are women!
But why is it that the role of comms has become more important than ever? And what can these experts in the field tell us about the relevance of “sci-comms”?
According to Tammy Stankey, Director of Communications at The Doe Run Company, innovation in comunication is key in order to be modern and relevant, whilst for Fareha Lasker, Communications Manager at the International Lead Association, these are very exciting times to work for the lead and lead battery industry:
"The industry presents a dream messaging scenario — huge market demand combined with a key role for our technologies in the clean future of the planet means it’s a time of obvious and great opportunity. We know that the next 10 years will see unprecedented growth in demand for battery energy storage to support a clean energy future and that advanced lead batteries have a key role to play in applications which will enable rapid electrification of our economy and society".
The group agreed that it’s "essential" for investment in the industry’s comms departments, and as Niamh Owen-McLaughlin, Communications and Digital Manager at CBI, explained, it’s about telling a story of an experienced industry that has witnessed not only evolution but also "innovation, progress and research" and it’s also important to share the "importance of the technology" for the future :
"Without comms, a lot of our stakeholders would never hear the story of innovation that we have to tell, and would never think of advanced lead batteries as a technology which is used all over the world for clean energy storage, for vehicles, for low-emission vehicles and in so many more applications".
Tammy gave an example on how a strong comms department brings even more success to the industry :
"When I first became involved in the industry I was invited to sit on the Public Affairs and Marketing committee of what was then the ALABC (now CBI). As a communications professional it was obvious to me that our industry was suffering from a lack of visibility. Our committee pushed hard to have demonstration projects promoted at high-profile events such as The Battery Show. The greater visibility that these projects received, the more interest was created among companies to fund basic science research and demonstration projects. The effort is paying off, as we now see government agencies (such as the U.S. Department of Energy) proactively reaching out to our industry to identify the greatest opportunities for research and technology development to support the Energy Storage Grand Challenge".
But how is comms driving innovation in the industry?
"The more that we can communicate the innovation underway in lead batteries, driven by the efforts of the global lead battery industry, the more we can increase funding and opportunities for further research and development. We are showing that our technology is not one of the past but instead one that is currently used all over the world in so many diverse and critical applications, and that we’re confident through continued research that the innovation journey lead batteries are on has only just begun", Niamh continued.
Considering the amount of legislative and regulatory proposals in the pipeline around the world designed to improve and accelerate sustainable technologies, "by communicating the innovation in lead and lead batteries across many of these – from lead cables enabling wind power to lead batteries supporting EVs – we are ensuring our industries stand out among those. Communicators across our industry are successfully bringing together the right influencers across policymakers, regulators and industry to understand and appreciate that we are part of the innovative solutions to achieving their low carbon goals. In keeping us at the front of their minds, we’re ensuring we remain at the heart of the energy transition", completed Fareha.
Progress in the industry should also target goals of diversity within the workforce, as Lisa Dry, Vice President of Strategic Communications - Battery Council International and Essential Energy Everyday, explained :
"BCI’s leadership has recognized that the lead battery and recycling industry needs to reflect a more diverse and inclusive culture. One step in that direction is the new Women in the Global Battery Industry professional organization to help women in the industry grow their careers. Studies show that women are better employees than men in several categories including organizational development and coaching talent. At a time when the competition for employees is fierce, it’s critically important to help current employees reach their maximum potential."
There’s clearly a common desire to see more women working for the industry and reaching leadership positions, but to attract and retain bright minds we must be willing to reach out to a more diverse audience, something that the industry is very open to do:
"I have seen firsthand how open and welcoming the industry is to others and I have personally benefited from the comradery of the industry by getting involved. This has allowed me access to participate in various committees and even the executive committees of associations. I encourage other woman to look for opportunities to share their expertise and build their network in this industry", added Tammy.
Sci-comms is critical to demonstrate the innovation underway in our industry, and these communicators are responsible for sharing accurate messages in times where misinformation is a trend. This is our tribute to each and every professional behind a strategic comms role in the scientific field, where diversity is still not a reality.
In the words of the United Nations, both science progress and gender equality are fundamental achievements to reach the SDG Goals as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
For this to become a reality, it is crucial to demonstrate the importance of having more women working in fields of science, and most of all to create conditions that empower and facilitate women to work in a sector traditionally dominated by men.
In 2015, the UN General Assembly declared February 11 as the “International Day of Women and Girls in Science”, as a way of fostering change in this field and turning these below stats around:
UN data from 2021
In this case, and like in any other sector, combining the strengths of all genders in the workplace can only create more space for better ideas, innovation, and progress in science.
Why is it so important to value women in science, but also in our industry in particular?
To better understand these issues and to see how they can be applied in our own industry, CBI spoke to four women who work in the global lead battery industry as researchers: Sibel Eserdağ (R&D Division Manager in Inci GS Yuasa), Sophia Bauknecht (Engineer at Technische Universität Berlin), Begüm Bozkaya (Technical Manager at CBI) and Maria Penafrancia Roma (Technical Collaboration Leader at Advanced Battery Concepts).
The idea was to show their perspectives, as women who work in mostly male environments, but more than that, to demonstrate why they are still working for the industry, why they believe their talent is crucial for it and why do they invite more women to join them in this challenging world.
According to the previously mentioned data, “women represent only 33.3% of all researchers” but considering the technological growth and the urge for progress and innovation in science and research, our group of four women agreed that is absolutely “crucial” to have more female researchers. Not only because of gender equality issues, but also due to the fact that it can bring more diversity of thinking which can only enrich the working groups, their talents and potential to do better things for the industry.
Sophia shared her thought:“that only with a higher number of female researchers it is possible to fully use the existing innovation and talent potential within a research area” and Maria noted that an “increased number of female researchers worldwide means that women with equal or even better capabilities are being given more opportunities now than in the past”. This will hopefully have a significant impact on other areas of the world, she continued: “this will mean that low and middle-income countries will see more women working on scientific and technological issues that can uplift their quality of life. Diversity and statistics will always lead to more revolutionary ideas that can change the world”.
What do women bring to science and to our industry?
According to Begüm, in many research areas “women face new challenges to meet the goals and targets in all levels of science”. Therefore, there’s a common “need” to provide a broader range of understanding and creativity:
“Encouraging the participation of women is essential, as men and women bring different perspectives to research and innovation. The diverse research groups in both academic and industry should combine various skills and abilities”.
But let’s be clear, “women can generate the same ideas and deliver similar results as any other gender in the room”, continues Maria. However, “there is a dearth of examples of this happening in the lead battery industry right now”. As Sibel highlights “like men, women bring their passion, patience, hard work and energy to the science and industry. But the important thing that women bring to science and industry is “diversity”:
“The lead battery industry seems to be a male-dominant industry from the outside however, it is proven by many articles and researches that diversity leads to innovation, so for innovation, industry and science we need more gender-balanced workforce.”
One thing is for sure, there’s a lot of admiration amongst women within the industry as they bring not only the obvious empowerment to each other, but also their perspectives, different backgrounds, skills and visions that add “a considerable value” to the industry, according to Sophia.
So, what advice would you give to a young female researcher starting/considering a career in the lead battery industry now?
We could not end this article without mentioning and promoting other women who are relevant references for our interviewees such as Dr. Kathryn R. Bullock, “whose vision, research and leadership led to revolutionary changes in the lead battery industry. She was a giant among men and the only female recognized by the Gaston Plante Award Committee in its 32 years of existence” (mentioned Maria) and Dr. Julia Kowal, a professor at TU Berlin who is “highly engaged in many committees to represent women in every aspect. She is carrying this additional workload to support other women in their academic career” (stated Sophia).
It's February 2022 when the “International Day of Women and Girls in Science” happens and CBI would like to celebrate every talent who is aiming to be a part of this exciting future for research and innovation, especially in the lead battery industry!