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Surrey University Generates Cathode Material For Potential Next-Generation Lithium Selenium Batteries

December 02, 2020 by Stephanie Leonida

University engineers from Surrey and Sydney create a cobalt-based battery material that enhances the performance of lithium selenium batteries.

Researchers from the University of Surrey and University Technology of Sydney have developed a method to create high-performing lithium selenium (Li-Se) battery technology. With the rise in demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and the technology required to run them, new battery technologies such as Li-Se battery technology has become a real area of interest. 

 

Surrey University Generates Cathode Material For Potential Next-Generation Lithium Selenium Batteries Figure

 

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have long been thought of as the ideal for EVs. They have a high power-to-weight ratio, good high-temperature performance, and high energy efficiency. The reduced weight of these batteries means that a car can travel further on a single charge. Despite the upsides to using LIBs, they are less robust than other rechargeable technologies and require circuit protection for overcharging and discharging too far. In research published in Nature Communications, Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) engineers, in collaboration with the team at University Technology of Sydney detail their work on an alternative battery technology that may be a promising alternative to LIBs. 

 

The Research

In the study, the researchers explain how they used a single-atom catalyst to create efficient cathodes for Li-Se batteries. Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework (ZIF) particles were deposited onto the surface of polystyrene spheres and carefully controlled. The ZIF’s core-shell was then converted into a hollow structured carbon material.

Through further methodological refinements, the ATI team produced atomic cobalt electrocatalyst, nitrogen-doped hollow porous carbon, nitrogen-doped hollow porous carbon,  and cobalt nanoparticles. Selenium was then embedded into hollow structured carbon particles to create carbon/selenium composites. The atomic cobalt electrocatalysts were used for the Li-Se batteries. The result was an enhanced electrochemical performance and rate capability. The researchers recorded an excellent cycling stability (267 mA h g−1 after 5000 cycles with a 0.0067% capacity decay per cycle at a current density of 50 C) with the Coulombic efficiency of ~100% and a superior rate capability (311 mA h g−1 at 50 C).

 

Engineers from the University of Surrey and University Technology of Sydney a high-performing Li-Se battery.
Engineers from the University of Surrey and University Technology of Sydney a high-performing Li-Se battery. Image used courtesy of University of Surrey 

 

In a recent news release, a lead author of the research, Dr. Jian Liu said that “we truly believe that our atomic cobalt-doped synthesized material can pave the way for Lithium Selenium batteries to be the go-to battery technology for future generations. While our results are incredibly encouraging, there is still some way to go to make our dream of high-capacity, sustainable battery technology a reality.”

The significance of this work lies in the potential to create batteries for demanding applications such as EV technologies that are able to achieve long life cycles. The research may also allow for the development of high-power Li-Se batteries. In the same news release, Director of the ATI at the University of Surrey, said that “we are incredibly proud of the highly creative and excellent work that Dr Liu’s team has produced – a piece of research that may be a defining moment for sustainable battery technology development.”