Carbon-capturing lithium batteries may soon become reality

A new system that speeds up the development of catalysts for lithium-CO2 (Li-CO2) cells could mean groundbreaking technology is closer than first thought. 

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Led by the University of Surrey, Imperial College London, and Peking University, China, researchers are working to address the laborious and time consuming processes currently used to catalyse Li-CO2 batteries. A using a unique tool, materials such as platinum, gold, silver, copper, iron and nickel are being tested and screened in a bid to ascertain which would be suitable for achieving higher performance models. 

While still unproven, Li-CO2 technology is considered to be a promising new development in the race towards net zero fuel sources. The innovation offers highly effective energy storage, and thanks to its reliance on CO2 to work, could contribute to growing carbon capture infrastructure. It is hoped that, if brought to market, the cells could offer a dual climate benefit as a result of this unique makeup. 

‘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, optimise operation conditions, and study CO2 conversion in high-performance lithium-CO2 batteries,’ said Dr Kai Yang, corresponding author of the work and project co-leader and Lecturer at the Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey. ‘This new method is more cost-effective, efficient, and controllable than traditional ways of making these materials.’

‘It is crucial that we develop new negative emissions technologies. 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,’ added Dr Yunlong Zhao, lead corresponding author of the study and Senior Lecturer at Imperial, National Physical Laboratory, and visiting academic from the University of Surrey. ‘This new tool will enable quick screening of catalysts, studying reaction mechanisms, and practical applications, from nanoscience to cutting-edge carbon removal technologies.’

More on lithium batteries:

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Nottingham Trent University embark on project to give electric vehicle batteries a ‘second life’

Image:  Nikhita Singhal


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