10.626 | Spring 2014 | Graduate

Electrochemical Energy Systems

Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 10.626 Electrochemical Energy Systems as it was taught by Professor Martin Bazant in Spring 2014.

Electrochemical Energy Systems consists of both graduate and undergraduate students. Students taking the graduate version complete additional assignments. Through lectures, readings, and problem sets, 10.626 introduces principles and mathematical models of electrochemical energy conversion and storage. Students study equivalent circuits, thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, transport phenomena, electrostatics, porous media, and phase transformations. In addition, this course includes applications to batteries, fuel cells, supercapacitors, and electrokinetics.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

The students learn the basic physics of electrochemical energy conversion, how to formulate mathematical models, make simple approximations, interpret experimental data, and design and optimize electrochemical systems. The concepts and models are intentionally very general and have many other applications such as desalination, biological membranes, and electrodeposition. Students interested in these and other topics also take the class to learn the basics of theoretical electrochemistry. The mathematical concepts, such as scaling analysis and asymptotic approximation, have broad applications outside of chemical engineering.

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

One of the best outcomes of the class has been forming lasting relationships with students, who often ask me to serve on their PhD thesis committees or collaborate in research. In several cases, these interactions led to joint publications and new projects between my group and others at MIT. In one case, I ended up co-advising a mechanical engineering graduate student (W. Braff) whose PhD thesis work on membraneless flow batteries was directly motivated by lectures I gave on boundary layer analysis for microfluidic fuel cells.

Instructor Interview

Below, Professor Martin Bazant describes various aspects of how he taught 10.626 Electrochemical Energy Systems.

I created the class in 2009 as an attempt to synthesize theoretical electrochemistry across many disciplines with the goal of eventually writing a textbook on Electrochemical Physics, based on original notes and problems. I chose energy as the cross-cutting theme because there is tremendous interest in this field, also reflected in my own research on batteries, fuel cells and capacitors, but the course is organized around fundamental topics, such as thermodynamics, kinetics, electrostatics, and transport, that have many other applications. The subject fills a need at MIT and elsewhere for a quantitative course on electrochemical systems, especially relating to energy conversion.

I am self-taught in electrochemistry and originally trained as a theoretical physicist, and I try to bring this perspective to the students. Thinking like a physicist means that nothing is a “black box.” I never tell students “it can be shown” or give them formulae to memorize, but rather show them how to derive results themselves, at least approximately, from fundamental concepts and equations. In doing so, they come to understand the assumptions behind a given formula and see how to modify it for different situations.

The OCW notes were written by student “scribes” based on my lectures, as a homework assignment. I do this every year as a way to help the students cement their knowledge and to record what I teach for future classes, since there is no other textbook available (until I publish my own). The content varies each year to increase the overall coverage and depth of the full set of lecture notes, including many that are not on OCW.

Curriculum Information


For graduate students: 10.50 Analysis of Transport Phenomena or permission of instructor

For undergraduate students: 10.302 Transport Processes

Requirements Satisfied



Every spring semester


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 40% Problem sets
  • 30% Take-home midterm exam
  • 30% Open-book final exam

Student Information


Enrollment for credit typically ranges from 18-21 students. Each year the class attracts almost as many listeners, including postdocs, visitors and even other faculty members.

Breakdown by Year

The majority of the class consists of graduate students, plus several undergraduate students.

Breakdown by Major

The class was originally cross listed as a special topic in mathematics and chemical engineering, and it has since also attracted many students from mechanical and electrical, materials science, and physics.

Typical Student Background

Most students and listeners are interested in electrochemical systems based on their own research or career goals and manage to put the course content to practical use in diverse applications.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:


Three class sessions per week, each lasting one hour; 38 sessions total; mandatory attendance.

Out of Class

Activities such as:

  • Readings
  • Assignments
  • Preparation for Exams

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes
Instructor Insights