ABS ER Awards

ABS Award Winner

Matthew Teusner

Batteries play an increasingly critical role in the functioning of contemporary society. Current battery technology suffers from a number of shortcomings, including use of performance limited, expensive, non-renewable, and toxic materials. To ensure future proofing of battery technology, new materials and methods that overcome the current shortcomings need to be developed. For example, graphite, the dominant Li ion anode material is expensive and hazardous to produce/refine and is globally inaccessible. Therefore, there is a need to search for alternative anode materials for lithium-ion batteries.

This report details the major findings of the research undertaken by the ABS ER award recipient, focusing of the development of new materials for batteries. Specifically, a number of metal-carboxylate materials were synthesised and investigated as anode materials in lithium ion batteries addressing the need to find alternatives for graphite.

The iron based materials were found to give the highest specific capacities, with iron (ii) tartrate giving up to 870 mAhg-1, which is over twice the theoretical capacity of graphite, at 372 mAhg-1. Additionally, the impact of the metal-carboxylate electrode microstructure on the electrochemical performance was investigated. It was found that electrodes with smaller active material particle size and better distribution gave significantly improved electrochemical performance. The microstructural tuning was conducted through a novel formulation methodology. Finally, this project explored the use of small and ultra-small angle neutron scattering (U/SANS) as a relatively novel electrode characterisation tool.

Cameron Smith

Monitoring the health of zinc bromine flows batteries requires a broad array of data. One component of battery health is the state of the electrolyte. Two quantities are especially important for the efficient operation of zinc bromine flow batteries: state of charge (SoC) and pH. Detailed in this report is a method for monitoring the SoC via aqueous bromine photometry. From the findings of this relationship, methods for determining pH that depart from the traditional hydrogen ion selective electrode are contemplated. Future work stemming from this project aims to design a photometric monitoring system that might quantify pH and ion concentration.

Mojtaba Eftekharnia

I, Mojtaba Eftekharnia, was awarded the Australian Battery Society Energy Renaissance Innovator Award in 2022. I used this award along with the funding from ARC Training Centre for Future Energy Storage Technologies (storEnergy) to travel to UK and Germany to visit UK Battery industrialization centre (UKBIC) in Coventry, UK, the CATL battery Failure Analysis Lab in Arnstadt, Germany, and attend Advanced Battery Power 2023 conference in Aachen, Germany.

UKBIC which is a government facility has been designed to support startups and small to medium-sized companies to address the manufacturing challenges of their battery technologies before they invest in establishing their manufacturing plants. This is a great strategy that provides companies with an opportunity to scale up efficiently and effectively.

My visit to the CATL battery Failure Analysis lab was also productive. CATL has established this department at its battery cell and battery module manufacturing plant in Arnstadt to diagnose the defects of the batteries it provides to its European customers like Volks Wagon and Mercedes Benz.
Finally, I attended the two-day Advanced Battery Power 2023 conference in Aachen, Germany where I learned more about new battery materials, battery cell degradation, safety and characterization, diagnosis, life cycle analysis, production, and application.

Md Masud Rana

Zinc Bromine flow batteries (ZBFBs) are considered one of the suitable candidates for the large-scale stationary energy storage application due to their intrinsic scalability and flexibility, recyclability, low cost, green and environmentally friendly technology. However, the battery still faces some technical challenges which need to be improved further to promote its realistic applications. The slow Br2/Br- redox reaction is responsible to produce H2 gas which can rise the pH in the electrolyte. Ultimately Zn(OH)2 is produced which can clog the filter of the battery and terminate the battery life. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain faster kinetics in cathode during charge/discharge of ZBFBs. This project aims to develop Sn particles coated CNF based cathode as an effective catalyst to fasten the bromine redox reaction in ZBFBs. The Sn particles coated CNF based cathode exhibited maximum 3000 cycles and excellent stability.

Ultimately, the development of large-scale commercial ZBFBs will help unlock Australia’s large-scale renewable energy revolution to boost energy supply and drive down power prices and create hundreds of jobs across regional areas. The expected outcomes will enhance Australia’s competitiveness in advanced manufacturing and energy storage technologies, contributing to the economic growth and fulfill the upcoming net zero emission target.

Junnan Hao

Wearable Zinc-ion batteries (ZIBs) are considered a promising energy storage device due to their superiorities in both safety and cost. However, the Zn reversibility in wearable ZIBs has not been yet studied. Here, our study reveals that gel electrolytes can suppress the dendrite growth to prolong the Zn lifespan, but they cannot address corrosion reactions, resulting in poor reversibility. To further enhance the mechanical properties of gel electrolyte and Zn reversibility, a functional double-network hydrogel electrolyte (FDHE) is designed, in which the unique poly-2-Acrylamido-2-methylpropanesulfonic/polyacrylamide (PAMPS/PAAM) structure provides a robust mechanical property. Meanwhile, the additive of dimethyl sulfoxide as an H-acceptor and salvation reg1ulator is added during the synthesis of FDHE, which not only inhibits side reactions by reducing the activity of free water but also diminishes the de-salvation energy barrier by regulating the Zn2+ salvation structure. Consequently, the Zn electrode in FDHE-based Zn coin-cell displays excellent reversibility even under -10 °C. After assembling wearable ZIIBs, outstanding performance is also achieved under different bending states. Our work provides an in-depth understanding of Zn behavior in gel electrolytes and paves the way to design next­generation wearable ZIBs.