Scientists Devise A New Post-lithium-ion Battery Technique

There is a growing need for environmentally friendly, ethical, and cost-effective energy storage. The Bristol Composites Institute’s scientists have devised a revolutionary programmable unidirectional ice-templating approach that enables tailoring the electrochemical performance of next-generation post-lithium-ion batteries while maintaining sustainability and mass availability.

Schematic of the synthesis process of CNC/PEO-derived VCAs anodes for SIBs/PIBs.

Based on an ice-templating mechanism, the novel carbon electrode material was developed. These materials are called aerogels, and they are made by growing and then sublimating ice crystals to produce a porous structure of cellulose nanocrystals (a nano-sized version of cellulose). This results in the formation of vast channels inside the structure capable of transporting the massive sodium and potassium ions.

The novel controllable ice-templating technique is being used by scientists to fabricate low-cost cellulose nanocrystals/polyethylene oxide-derived carbon aerogels with hierarchically tailored and vertically aligned channels as electrode materials. These materials are being used to optimise the rate capability and cycling stability of sodium and potassium-ion batteries.

a) Schematic illustrating the formation mechanism of unidirectional ice-templated VCAs. b) A photograph showing an aligned CNC/PEO aerogel standing on a leaf; the inset is a digital photograph of the VCA. c) Typical SEM images of a cross-sectional and top-view (inset) of the CNC/PEO aerogels. d) 3D reconstructions of honeycomb-like cellular pores derived from X-ray tomography. SEM images of e) VCA-7 from the longitudinal view and f) VCA-7 from the top view. HRTEM images and inset SAED patterns of g) VCA-U, h) VCA-3, i) VCA-5, and j) VCA-7. The freezing direction in (d) and (e) is indicated by white arrows.

Scientists found the performance of these novel sodium and potassium ion batteries has been demonstrated to be superior to that of several previous comparable systems, and they are made of a material generated sustainably – cellulose.

Benefiting from the renewable nature of the precursor and the comparatively cheap cost of the ecologically benign synthesis method, scientists feel that this study may pave the way for large-scale deployments of sustainable electric cars and energy storage systems in the near future.

Reference-  Bristol Composites Institute, journal Advanced Functional Materials, Clean Technica