The global demand for energy is expected to grow from 13 to 25 terawatts by 2050. Renewable energies will only be able to cover 10 percent of the need.
Hence, researchers at Ruhr University Bochum’s Center for Electromechanical Sciences, in Germany, are working on an energy storage device based on water, an aqueous lithium-ion battery.
Led by Fabio La Mantia, the team expects to produce a two-volt accumulator at one-third of the cost of conventional ones. The idea is to develop batteries, which are suitable for power grid applications.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research said it will provide 1.424.000 euros ($1,913,330) for a period of five years.
Prior to the launch of the project, due in March 2012, SmartEnergy Designline has asked three key questions to Fabio La Mantia, junior group leader of the “Semiconductor and Energy Conversion” group (Center for Electrochemical Sciences) of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
. SmartEnergy Designline: Can you describe what will compose the aqueous lithium-ion battery?
Fabio La Mantia: The aqueous lithium-ion battery will be composed of a cathodic and an anodic lithium intercalation compounds. Many water stable lithium intercalation compound are known, for example LiMn2O4, LiCoO2, LiFePO4, Li(NiMnCo)O2, LiV3O8, LiTi2(PO4)3 and other similar compounds. We will need to study what is the best coupling between anodic and cathodic materials. We will also work on different aqueous electrolytes, based on concentrated solutions of Li2SO4, LiClO4, Li2CO3, LiNO3. The idea is to have a combination of materials and electrolyte that gives the best stability in performances (life of the battery) and the highest energy and power density.
. SmartEnergy Designline: What technological challenges do you have to overcome as part of your research project?
La Mantia: The main challenge will be to stabilize the interface between the electronically conducting compounds and the electrolyte to avoid the reduction or the oxidation of water, which would cause a loss in the performances of the battery and a rapid failing of the device.
. SmartEnergy Designline: When can we expect to see the first aqueous lithium-ion battery on the market and what type of applications will it be best suited for?
La Mantia: As part of this project, my work plan consists in building up a prototype of a battery stack, based on this technology, that demonstrates the possibility of the aqueous system. The aim is to have a 5 stack battery, with each cell having 2 V voltage, for a total of 10 V. I hope that this prototype attracts the attention of industrial partners. Such a battery will be suited for stationary application, such as in power grid, to store temporary the energy produced from renewable energy sources.
Group leader Fabio La Mantia
Take this as an appetizer and expect more to come as the project develops!
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