A team of researchers from the York University has created a method that helps them make Lithium-powered batteries more environmentally-supportive while still functioning at the same performance and storage capacity.
Lithium-ion batteries use toxic, heavy metals that can tremendously affect the environment when they are dug from the ground and are challenging to dispose of safely. Cobalt is among those heavy metals from which battery electrodes are made of. Part of the issue is that lithium and cobalt are not largely available, which means that supplies are decreasing.
Utilizing organic materials is the best way forward, and scientists like professor Thomas Baumgartner from the Faculty of Science and his colleagues have started developing and testing new molecules to discover the perfect ones to substitute the rare metals currently being used.
“Organic electrode materials are considered to be extremely promising materials for sustainable batteries with high power capabilities,” professor Baumgartner says.
Further Improving the Capacity
The team’s most recent discovery is the creation of a new organic molecule based on carbon that can replace the cobalt used in cathodes or positive electrodes in lithium-ion batteries. The new material fills in the gaps created by the inorganic material while offering the same performance.
“Electrodes made with organic materials can make large-scale manufacturing, recycling, or disposing of these elements more environmentally friendly,” says Baumgartner. “The goal is to create sustainable batteries that are stable and have equally as good if not better capacity.”
The research has been published and featured on the cover of the March edition of the journal Batteries & Supercaps, a ChemPubSoc.
“With this particular class of molecules that we’ve made, the electroactive component is very suitable for batteries as it’s very good at storing electrical charges and has good long-term stability,” the scientist says.
Baumgartner and his colleagues previously detailed the electroactive component in a paper published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.
“We have optimized this electroactive component and put it in a battery. It has a very good voltage, up to the 3.5 volts, which is really where current batteries are now,” he says. “It’s an important step forward in making fully organic and sustainable batteries.”
Baumgartner stated that the next phase is to enhance the capacity of the new creation. His team is currently working on the next generation of molecules that seem to guarantee their ability to increase current capacity.