(Invited) Beyond Li-Ion Batteries: Why? , to Where? Why?, to Where?

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The field of advanced batteries faces today two main challenges: development of power sources for electro-mobility (i.e., electrochemical propulsion) and development of storage technologies for load-leveling applications (i.e., large scale batteries). Our starting point in this presentation is state-of-the-art Li-ion batteries. Using carbonaceous anodes and lithiated transition metal cathodes with selected combinations of transition metals may offer very suitable batteries for full EVs. Ni rich Li[NiCoMn]O2, Mn and Li rich Li1+x[NiMnCo]1-xO2 cathode materials operating in the right potential windows can provide Li-ion batteries high enough energy density as needed for full electrochemical propulsion. Also, by combining Li-Ti-O anodes with LiMPO4 olivine cathodes it is possible to demonstrate very suitable battery systems for stationary large energy storage applications. We will review briefly the updated frontier of Li-ion battery technology. Despite the high capability of this battery technology, there are so many applications for power sources in modern life, what promote very strongly a search for more new battery systems. The use of sulfur cathodes in Li batteries can increase considerably their gravimetric energy density, however, the volumetric energy density of Li-sulfur battery systems is not advantageous compared to advanced Li ion batteries. The good news are that in recent years, we see a nice progress in developing durable composite sulfur cathodes. It seems that there are 3 main approaches: encapsulating sulfur in activated carbon matrices, the use of substrates to which the LiSn species formed by sulfur reduction adsorb very strongly and the use of composite cathodes with high loading of sulfur and semi-permeable membranes that avoid transport of LiSn species to the negative electrodes. There is intensive work on Li-oxygen systems. We see progress in development of electro-catalysis for these systems. We will demonstrate electro-catalytic electrodes in Li-oxygen cells, which anodic reactions (Li-peroxide oxidation and molecular oxygen evolution) occur at very low over-potential, that does not endanger the stability of the electrolyte solutions. We demonstrate also red-ox mediators in solutions that facilitate both ORR and OER. Despite the frustration from the slow progress made towards practical directions, it is important to continue investing efforts in Li-oxygen systems. The community should understand that a long-term research is still required in order to see practical horizons to Li-air battery systems. A main problem is the reactivity of all kinds of polar-aprotic solvents towards superoxide and peroxide species formed by oxygen reduction, in the presence of the super-electrophilic Li ions. The intensive work on both Li-S and Li-oxygen systems is connected to a renaissance in efforts to develop practical Li metal anodes for rechargeable batteries. However, intensive studies that were carried out during more than 3 decades, concluded more than 15 years ago that there is no way to cycle Li metal anodes in practical rechargeable Li battery systems. Even if dendrites formation is avoided, continuous detrimental reactions between the active metal and any type of relevant electrolyte solution is inevitable. We will examine briefly what are the chances to overcome the intrinsic problems in using Li metal anodes in practical rechargeable batteries. We may be able to suggest practical alternative anodes for non-aqueous batteries based on sulfur or oxygen cathodes. Discussing other options for "beyond Li-ion batteries" usually includes Na-ion and magnesium batteries. In fact, the plethora of relevant Na-ion insertion cathodes available today is a good surprise, especially since many of them demonstrate excellent kinetics. However, there is no way that Na-ion systems can rival Li-ion battery systems in terms of energy density. Hence, Na-ion systems may be relevant for large energy storage applications, that can benefit from the high abundance of Na in earth crust. However for such uses, demonstrating high stability during prolonged cycling is mandatory. Consequently, a major challenge in R&D of Na-ion batteries is to exhibit the durability required for load-leveling applications. Finally, we will mention the status of R&D of rechargeable Mg battery systems: excellent work was done so far on the anode-solutions part. Several families of electrolyte solutions with wide electrochemical windows, in which Mg anodes are fully reversible were demonstrated. We have not seen yet cathodes materials that function well in the solutions in which Mg anodes are fully reversible, except the low voltage/low capacity Chevrel phase cathode materials. Hence, these systems still require long term research work, especially towards high voltage/high capacity cathode materials. A main incentive to develop rechargeable Mg batteries may relate to advantages in safety and high volumetric energy density.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)226-226
Number of pages1
JournalECS Meeting Abstracts
Issue number226
StatePublished - 2016


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