The rechargeable Lithium-ion (LI) battery has become a ubiquitous technology that underpins our lives, powering our mobile devices and electric cars, as well as providing efficient storage for renewably-generated electricity. But there is still an enormous research effort underway to increase their efficiency and reliability, as the technologies of the future will have even greater thirst for the portable energy power of batteries. Professor Maria Forsyth, a former ARCAustralian Laureate Fellow at Deakin University, is Director of the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Future Energy Storage Technologies (storEnergy) and is determined that the next battery technology breakthroughwill have a manufacturing home in Australia. The research teams at storEnergy are workingwith LI local Australian comanies and organisations to push the frontiers of battery technology in different ways. Some teams are focussed on improving existing LI cells, to make them higher energy density. Other teams are exploring newbattery formulations, such as replacing lithiumwith sodium, which is more readily available and more environmentally friendly. ‘One of our partner companies, CALIX Ltd, based in Bacchus Marsh just outside Melbourne – whose expertise is in high surface area inorganic materials, such as oxides for the agricultural industry – is now exploring using their unique calcining method for the manufacture of oxide for more sustainable, high performance electrodes,’ says Professor Forsyth. FUTURE IS FULLY CHARGED WITH NEW BATTERY TECHNOLOGY
Professor Forsyth says that the current LI cell dates from 1992, and that the markets are now at the tipping point for decidingwhat the next generation of batteries will be andwhowill make them – driven by the need for new kinds of batteries with different properties. ‘I’m so excited for what is happening now in Australia, the forces are aligning, and there is real potential for the birth of a new industry from the translation of Australia’s research efforts,’ says Professor Forsyth.
Meanwhile, storEnergy Chief Investigator, Professor Jennifer Pringle at Deakin University, is workingwith BoronMolecular Inc. to develop the manufacturing processes for electrolyte (Above) Professor Maria Forsyth. Credit: ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Future Energy Storage Technologies. (Right) Advanced high energy density Lithium-metal battery in Ionic Liquid Electrolyte. Credit: storEnergy. components, including polymers and the special salts that go into batteries, to be up-scaled, and to make them cleaner and cheaper.
EMPOWERING AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY
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