Toyota Research Institute and Northwestern University teaming up to help reduce carbon emissions

Sep 1, 2022, 3:15 PM EDT
2 mins read
Toyota Research Institute and Northwestern University teaming up to help reduce carbon emissions
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Researchers from Northwestern University and Toyota Research Institute (TRI) have created new AI-driven techniques to create next-generation materials that will help reduce carbon emissions. They claim to have created the world’s first “data factory” made of nanomaterials.

Toyota and Northwestern claim that their new AI-driven methodology goes beyond traditional trial and error by examining broad parameter sets, collecting information, and using AI to explore materials databases to find the best materials for a given application.

The data factory’s first use will be to find new catalysts that will improve the efficiency of fuel cell vehicles. However, TRI and Northwestern think that this strategy for materials discovery will have numerous uses in the future, including the generation of clean hydrogen, the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, and high-efficiency solar cells.


To sort through Northwestern‘s new mega libraries, which include huge amounts of information on inorganic materials, TRI and Northwestern have created a machine learning system for creating materials. As a result, a “nanomaterial data factory” is developed, an attempt to mine huge amounts of complex data.

To find affordable, more accessible catalyst materials to replace the pricey, uncommon ones now employed, such as platinum and iridium, the team is building a data factory.

Machine learning algorithms have previously been taught on lower-quality, erroneously-gathered data sets. Using Northwestern and TRI‘s new capabilities, the team can now train powerful algorithms with high-quality data sets, enabling the fast and precise discovery of essential materials for unmet requirements.

“Meeting the growing demand for mobility without emitting carbon is a major challenge,” said Brian Storey, TRI senior director of energy and materials. “Through this partnership with Northwestern, we have significantly reduced the time it takes to test and find new materials that can be used in batteries and fuel cells to decarbonize transportation.”


“This groundbreaking research marks an inflection point in how we discover and develop critical materials,” said Chad Mirkin, director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern. “Together with TRI, we’re poised to empower the scientific community to find the best materials that can truly power the clean energy transition.”

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