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Researchers want to improve battery performance

A graphic showing four batteries with different charge levels

In the project, calcium and magnesium will replace lithium, which is typically used in batteries, photo: pixabay

Who wouldn't want their phone or laptop battery to function reliably for a long time? Meeting these expectations, however, is not that easy. For this, one requires materials with specific properties. Researchers from the Faculty of Chemistry of the Warsaw University of Technology and the National Institute of Chemistry from Slovenia are already looking for them.

These days, lithium-ion batteries are the most common. Because of their small weight, they work great in electronic devices. They are also used more and more in the automotive industry (electric cars), as energy storage, and even in aviation. As a result, the demand is constantly increasing. Resources needed for these cells are not widely accessible, though. Therefore, you need to look for alternatives.

Calcium and magnesium instead of lithium

Polish and Slovenian researchers have decided to explore the potential of metal-organic batteries.

– We want to improve the properties of next-generation cells that are based on calcium and magnesium ions and an organic cathode – explained Prof. Władysław Wieczorek from the Faculty of Chemistry, project manager.

The weak dissociation of salts of such metals is a challenge for the researchers. This means that these salts are not sufficiently soluble in the organic solvent to produce enough electrical conductivity, and therefore to produce sufficiently efficient cells.

However, researchers have found a solution.

Something must be added

– We intend to apply electrolyte additives – explains Prof. Władysław Wieczorek. – In the first stage, these will be commercial additives. By doing this, we want to investigate how various functional groups affect how cells function.

The data obtained from the research and the results of theoretical calculations will then be used to synthesize the already specially designed additives. The researchers also plan to develop new organic cathode materials – of high energy and capacity.

– This, we believe, will allow us to achieve metal deposition/dispersion efficiency above 99% and will greatly increase the number of discharge/charging cycles possible – adds Maciej Marczewski, PhD, Eng., leader of the tasks to be carried out by the Polish side.

The project brings together the experience and skills of Prof. Władysaw Wieczorek's team from the WUT Faculty of Chemistry (responsible for developing electrolytes and their additives) and Prof. Robert Dominko's team from the Slovenian National Institute of Chemistry (dealing with the development of cells based on multivalent metals).

The "High energy battery additives based on divalent metal ions and organic cathode" project has received funding in the OPUS 22 + LAP/WEAVE competition, implemented by the National Science Centre and the Slovenian Research Agency.

The team consists of: Prof. Władysław Wieczorek, PhD, DSc, Eng. (project manager of the Polish side) and Maciej Marczewski, PhD, Eng. (leader of the tasks of the Polish side), as well as Prof. Robert Dominko (project manager of the Slovenian side) and Jan Bitenc, PhD (leader of the tasks of the Slovenian side).