Team investigates alternative battery material

Thursday, 15 August, 2019

Team investigates alternative battery material

Researchers from the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) are hoping to develop a new type of battery material that will reduce the cost and environmental impact of high-performance batteries.

Working in partnership with Calix, at its Bacchus Marsh manufacturing facility, and Melbourne-based Boron Molecular, the team is studying applications of a readily available compound compared with current standard ingredients that are more costly and harder to source.

The three-year project has received $3 million in funding from the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centre Projects program, which supports short-term, industry-led collaborations in new technologies, products and services.

IFM Deputy Director Professor Maria Forsyth, who leads the IFM team that includes Prof. Patrick Howlett and Dr Robert Kerr, said energy storage was a growing area of research, but the challenge was to develop manufacturing capability in Australia.

“There is a global search for safe, low-cost, high-capacity, high-performing batteries given the demand for high-performance energy storage and electric vehicles,” Prof. Forsyth said.

“The challenge for Australia is to develop a sustainable battery manufacturing industry that has global reach through process innovation.”

Prof. Forsyth said Deakin was ideally placed to lead the research, with IFM hosting the Battery Technology Research and Innovation Hub (BatTRI-Hub) — a world-class research and innovation centre focused on advanced battery prototyping and the commercialisation of energy storage technologies.

The team will explore the use of CalixFlash Calcination (CFC) technology to produce customised micron-sized nano-electroactive materials for intercalation-based anodes and cathodes. This could then be integrated with optimised ionic electrolytes to make up to 10 kWh battery pack prototypes.

Prof. Howlett said this would be the first time this type of battery research has been undertaken in Australia.

“We will be using high-rate processing technology with Australian materials,” Prof. Howlett said. “These materials will also have capacity to go into high-performance supercapacitors, which store charge like a battery and can dispense that charge very quickly.”

The project will involve a field trial of the battery packs, including solar applications linked to small solar PV systems and the Deakin Microgrid, currently under development at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, as well as creation of a data-analytics database that will play a vital role in the design process.

Importantly, the project will develop a roadmap for commercialisation pathways and a blueprint for an Australian manufacturing hub of nano-active materials, electrolytes and packing technologies.

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