Ian McKay

Hertz Fellow: Ian McKay

Stanford University

Area of Study

Chemical Engineering

Fellowship Years

2014 - present

A graduate of MIT, Ian pushes the limits on what batteries can do. “Earth-friendly power sources like wind or solar work only when the wind blows or the sun shines,” he says. “We need bigger and better batteries to store that elusive energy and make it available at any time so we can keep the lights on for 10 billion people without ruining the planet.”

Even before he achieved his MS degree, Ian had been lead author on seven patent applications and many peer-reviewed publications, which include the basis for two radically new energy storage systems currently undergoing integration in the Ford Focus electric vehicle and the U.S. Navy Remus-600 autonomous submarine. He is working on new energy storage chemistries and catalyst materials. Practical applications of such work could make batteries that enable next-generation transportation or exploration systems, and give more freedom to people dependent on medical implants.

“The Hertz Fellowship is amazing because it lets me choose the piece of the energy puzzle that I judge to be most important, and go all out on that one piece.”


2017 - Peter Strauss Award
Co-founder of Open Water Power, Hertz Fellow Ian McKay, awarded the 2017 Peter Strauss Award for his outstanding work pushing the limits of battery power. McKay is the lead inventor of a revolutionary aluminum-based battery that offers 10 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries in a safe, compact design. It is ideal for use in unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) used by the United States Navy, as well as ocean science research and the oil & gas industry, enabling greater range and battery life with a better safety profile. The new battery design is being refined and commercialized by Open Water Power Incorporated, which McKay co-founded with Tom Milnes. The company was recently acquired by L3 Technologies and is now known as L3 Open Water Power.