New tech may boost development of lithium-CO2 batteries

(Reference image by Geralt, Pixabay.)

An international team of researchers has created a new technology that speeds up the development of catalysts for lithium-CO2 (Li-CO2) batteries, which are devices that are capable of storing energy and capturing harmful emissions.  

In a paper published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, the researchers explain that their new tool enables simultaneous catalyst screening and in-situ analysis of the chemical composition and morphological evolution of reaction products.

“We have created a cutting-edge lab-on-a-chip electrochemical testing platform that can do multiple things at the same time. It helps evaluate electrocatalysts, optimize operation conditions, and study CO2 conversion in high-performance lithium-CO2 batteries,” Kai Yang, the study’s corresponding author and a lecturer at the University of Surrey, said in a media statement. “This new method is more cost-effective, efficient, and controllable than traditional ways of making these materials.”

Yang and his colleagues used the tool to test and screen materials like platinum, gold, silver, copper, iron and nickel to easily investigate whether they would be suitable candidates for developing high-performing Li-CO2 batteries. 

Li-CO2 batteries are among the so-called lithium-air batteries, which employ lithium as an anode and a variety of gases as a cathode, in this case, carbon dioxide. Li-CO2 batteries are of particular interest due to their high discharging voltage (∼2.8 V), very high theoretical specific energy density (1,876 Wh kg−1) and potential to capture greenhouse gases. 

“It is crucial that we develop new negative emissions technologies,” Yunlong Zhao, senior author of the paper, said.

“Our lab-on-a-chip platform will play a crucial role in advancing this goal. It will not only enhance our understanding of novel batteries, but it can also be applied to other systems like metal-air batteries, fuel cells, and photoelectrochemical cells. This new tool will enable quick screening of catalysts, studying reaction mechanisms, and practical applications, from nanoscience to cutting-edge carbon removal technologies.”