Dr. Beers’s core discipline is chemical engineering with focus on problems at the intersections of chemistry, polymer science, materials engineering, and electrochemistry. He has particular expertise with challenges related to transport in polymer membranes, conductive polymers, polymers in electrochemical devices, and characterization of self-assembled nanostructures. His specialty is determining how properties at the molecular level influence the macroscale performance of the materials used in a wide variety of consumer, industrial and military products including: in fuel cells, battery cells, ion-exchange resins, and filtration systems.
Additionally, Dr. Beers leverages his broad interdisciplinary background and knowledge of structure-property relationships to analyze failures and performance challenges in complex battery systems. He utilizes a variety of techniques to these problem types, including X-ray computed tomography (CT), cross-sectional analysis by optical and electron microscopy, and accelerated testing experiments.
Prior to joining Exponent, Dr. Beers’s graduate research focused on the design, synthesis, and characterization of model proton conducting semi-crystalline block copolymers for use in fuel cells. He determined how crystallization affects the self-assembly, conductivity, and water uptake of these systems. Through a variety of collaborations, Dr. Beers used X-ray scattering and electron imaging to characterize polymeric components in batteries, including solid polymer electrolytes, mesoporous polymer separators, and conductive polymer electrode binders. These collaborations further led to Dr. Beers developing a method of surface modifying mesoporous battery separators to make them hydrophilic, facilitating their use as water filtration membranes and porous ion-exchange resins.
Dr. Beers has experience with a variety of synthetic techniques such as anionic polymerization, ATRP, ROMP, and catalytic hydrogenation of polyolefins. He also has experience with laboratory techniques for molecular characterization (NMR, GPC, FTIR), morphological characterization (X-ray and neutron scattering, RSOXS, TEM, EFTEM, SEM - EDS, and laser birefringence), thermal characterization (DSC and TGA), as well as other membrane testing techniques such as impedance spectroscopy, vapor adsorption / BET, ion exchange measurements, and rheology.
While at the University of California, Dr. Beers served as a graduate student instructor for two semesters, assisting on courses in transport laboratory skills and biochemical process design. In the later, he worked one-on-one with student groups to guide the design of chemical processes for the production of polylactic acid, ethanol, citric acid, and biodiesel.
CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS
- Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 2012
- B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2007, cum laude
LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS
Licensed Professional Chemical Engineer, California, #6695
Beers KM, Wong DT, Jackson AJ, Wang X, Pople JA, Hexemer A, Balsara NP. Effect of crystallization on proton transport in model polymer electrolyte membranes. Macromolecules 2014; 47(13):4330–4336.
Chen X, Wong DT, Yakovlev S, Beers KM, Downing KH, Balsara NP. Effect of morphology of nanoscale hydrated channels on proton conductivity in block copolymer electrolyte membranes. Nano Letters 2014; 14(7):4058–4064.
Beers KM, Yakovlev S, Jackson AJ, Wang X, Hexemer A, Downing KH, Balsara NP. Absence of Schroeder’s paradox in a nanostructured block copolymer. Journal of Physical Chemistry B 2014; 118(24):6785–6791.
Jackson A*, Beers KM*, Chen XC, Hexemer A, Pople JA, Kerr J B, Balsara NP. Design of a humidity controlled sample stage for simultaneous conductivity and synchrotron X-ray scattering measurements. Review of Scientific Instruments 2013; 84:075114.
*Authors contributed equally.
Wong DT, Wang C, Beers KM, Kortright JB, Balsara NP. Mesoporous block copolymer morphology studied by contrast-matched resonant soft X-ray scattering. Macromolecules 2012; 45(22):9188–9195.
Beers KM, Balsara NP. Design of cluster-free polymer electrolyte membranes and implications on proton conductivity. ACS Macro Letters 2012; 1(10):1155-1160.
Patel SN, Javier AE, Beers KM, Pople JA, Ho V, Segalman RA, Balsara NP. Morphology and thermodynamic properties of a copolymer with and electronically conducting block: poly(3-ethylhexylthiophene)-block-poly(ethylene oxide). Nano Letters 2012; 12(9):4901–4906.
Beers KM, Hallinan DT, Wang X, Pople JA, Balsara NP. Counterion condensation in Nafion. Macromolecules 2011; 44(22):8866–8870.
Wang X, Beers KM, Kerr JM, Balsara NP. Conductivity and water uptake in block copolymers containing protonated polystyrene sulfonate and its imidazolium salt. Soft Matter 2011; 7(9):4446–4452.
Balsara NP, Beers KM. Proton conduction in materials comprising conducting domains with widths less than 6 nm. European Polymer Journal 2011; 47(4):647–650.
Wang X, Yakovlev S, Beers KM, Park MJ, Mullin SA, Downing KH, Balsara NP. Origin of slow changes in ionic conductivity of model block copolymer electrolyte membranes in contact with humid air. Macromolecules 2010; 43(12):5306–5314.
Turn SQ, Keffer V, Beers KM. Physiochemical analysis of selected biomass materials in Hawaii. Report prepared for the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, 2005.
Conference Presentations and Published Abstracts
Chen C, Wong DT, Beers KM, Balsara NP. Morphology and proton transport in sulfonated block copolymer and mesoporous polymer electrolyte membranes. National Meeting of the American Physical Society, Baltimore, MD, March 2013.
Beers KM, Jackson A, Balsara NP. Characterization of the disorder-order transition in hydrated block copolymers using humidity controlled SAXS. Synchrotron Radiation in Polymer Science Conference, San Francisco, CA, March 2012.
Beers KM, Jackson A, Balsara NP. Disorder-order transitions in humidified block copolymer electrolytes studied by in situ SAXS. National Meeting of the American Physical Society, Boston, MA, March 2012.
Wong DT, Beers KM, Wang C, Kortright J, Balsara, NP. Characterizing mesoporous block copolymers by resonant soft X-ray scattering. National Meeting of the American Physical Society, Boston, MA, March 2012.
Beers KM, Wang X, Balsara NP. Characterization of a model polyelectrolyte membrane using a semi-crystalline block copolymer. National Meeting of the American Physical Society, Dallas, TX, March 2011.
Wang X, Balsara NP, Beers KM, Park MJ. Conductivity and water content in asymmetrical sulfonated block copolymers. National Meeting of the American Physical Society, Portland, OR, March 2010.
Graduate Student Research Assistant, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2008–2012
Summer Intern, Oceanit, Summer 2007
Undergraduate Researcher, University of Colorado, 2006–2007
Summer Undergraduate Researcher, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Summer 2005