Cost-Effective Catalysts for Metal-Air Battery

Experts believe that cheaper metal-based bifunctional electrocatalysts could decrease cost and increase the efficiency of metal-air batteries


International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous research and development (R&D) centre of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), under the Government of India, has reportedly developed a cost-effective electrocatalyst.

Researchers came up with the model by anchoring transition metal ions into the sulfur-doped carbon framework via carbonization of a polymer called sulfonated polyether ether ketone (sPEEK).

The findings have been published in the journal ACS Applied Energy Materials.

The research team noted that this catalyst synthesis method could also be used to recycle used ionomers (polymer composed of both neutral repeating units and ionized units).

According to the experts, a new non-precious metal-based bifunctional electrocatalyst, which is capable of catalyzing two different types of reactions, could decrease cost and increase the efficiency of metal-air batteries.

As the demand for different sustainable energy sources continues to rise worldwide, efforts are underway globally to develop different kinds of energy devices, such as lithium-ion batteries, lead-acid batteries, redox flow batteries, lithium-air batteries, zinc-air batteries, sodium-ion batteries, fuel cells, and even supercapacitors.

In the latest study, the scientists used an ion-exchange strategy that positions the metal ions in the carbon framework homogeneously, limits the particle size, and offers control on composition and size at a very low loading of transition metal.

By observing the above mechanism, cost-effectiveness is achieved by low loading of transition metal, high activity, and high cycling stability compared to many of the catalysts earlier reported in the literature.

The researchers further elaborated that the catalyst also reduces voltage polarization, enabling higher energy efficiency and a stable charge-discharge characteristic.

The results thus obtained were comparable to that of conventionally used noble metal-based catalysts, with metal loading of 20% or higher.

The constant need to come up with innovative ways to store energy and harness the potential of renewable power has led to several technological advancements in recent times.

Collaborative research between the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and National Tsing Hua University (NTHU), Taiwan, has revealed a new charge storage mechanism that has the potential to allow rechargeability within calcium-air batteries.

Last month, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, published a paper outlining a new concept for rechargeable batteries made of cement. Developed by scientists attached to the varsity’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, the concept involves a high-rise concrete structure capable of storing energy like a giant battery. The concept involves a cement-based mixture mixed with small amounts of short carbon fibers.

Earlier this year, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other organizations found a novel electrolyte that could make it possible for lithium-ion batteries to store about 420 watt-hours per kilogram. Such batteries can now typically store about 260 watt-hours per kilogram of energy.


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