Researchers at the University of Surrey (UK) are to begin work on a new lithium-ion battery technology that is capable of capturing CO2 emissions, following a £243,689 award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The project, which will be led by Dr Yunlong Zhao, will undertake research into state-of-the-art batteries that use Li–CO2 electrochemical technology. Crucially, the research will look to achieve a breakthrough in efficient CO2 fixation to store energy.
Among different metal-CO2 batteries—which feature the dual characteristics of both effective CO2 fixation and advanced energy storage/conversion—Li-CO2 batteries are considered the best candidates due to their high theoretical specific energy density (~1800 Wh/kg) and relatively high discharge potential (~2.8 V).
However, the development of Li-CO2 batteries is still in its infancy stage. This project aims to make advancements in Li-CO2 batteries with a focus on screening efficient cathode electrocatalysts and studying reaction mechanisms.
The high charge potential and unclear reaction mechanisms of current Li-CO2 batteries results in poor reversibility and short cycle life. Therefore, massive efforts need to devote to find efficient catalysts and understand the comprehensive mechanisms.
This project proposes a versatile screening and in situ characterization platform for rapid screening of highly efficient electrocatalysts and in-depth studying of reaction mechanisms. This project details a specific method to fabricate on-chip Li-CO2 batteries.
Combining a unique four-electrode circuit with advanced high-resolution characterization methods, the structure-property relationship and underlying mechanism of Li-CO2 batteries will be revealed, which could further guide the optimization of Li-CO2 batteries.
Project partners NPL (in situ characterizations), Johnson Matthey (materials and batteries) and QinetiQ (manufacturing and batteries) will provide essential know-how in order to help achieve the project aims: to fabricate on-chip Li-CO2 batteries prototype; to select optimal electrocatalysts; to construct an in situ characterization platform and uncover the underlying mechanism; and to optimize the performance of Li-CO2 batteries.
Dr Zhao is Lecturer in Energy Storage and Bioelectronics at Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and he is also Senior Research Scientist at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).
The move to carbon neutral forms of energy supplies is critical to the long-term health of our planet and we are hopeful that our ambitious new project will help to address this need. This project will look at fundamental studies of electrochemical mechanisms through a multimodal in situ characterisation platform developed in collaboration with NPL.—Dr Yunlong Zhao