IIT-B, Shiv Nadar University develop eco-friendly lithium batteries


PTI, Aug 23, 2020, 4:51 PM IST

New Delhi: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Shiv Nadar University claim to have developed a technology for production of environment-friendly Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) batteries which will be three times more energy-efficient and cost-effective than Lithium-ion batteries commonly used at present.

According to the team, the Li-S battery technology leverages principles of green chemistry, incorporating the usage of by-products from the petroleum industry (Sulfur), agro-waste elements and copolymers such as cardanol (a by-product of cashew nut processing) and eugenol (clove oil) as cathodic materials.

The researchers said the technology has the potential to aid multi-billion dollar industries including tech gadgets, drones, electric vehicles (EV) and several more that depend on such batteries.

“The research focusses on principles of green chemistry to find a solution that addresses the requirements of industries and the environment, simultaneously. The capability of three times more energy density, coupled with being a significantly safer technology, holds the promise of accelerating the adoption of clean, battery-led energy across multiple domains,” Bimlesh Lochab, Associate Professor at Shiv Nadar University, said.

“For example, an electric car with a 400 km range using conventional Lithium-ion batteries can now quadruple its range to 1600 km on a single charge with this technology, while being compact in size and much safer to use than traditional Lithium-ion batteries. To put this in perspective, it could mean driving from Delhi to Mumbai on a single charge and still being left with power,” she added.

Lochab’s team has partnered with Sagar Mitra, IIT Bombay’s Professor in the Department of Energy Science and Engineering, to use the research for the development of a Li-S battery prototype.

“From our laptops, mobile phones and smartwatches to even electric cars depend on them. They are not efficient in terms of energy storage, they are heavy, expensive, extremely hard to recycle and also prone to combustion. The research innovatively used eugenol (derived from clove oil) copolymer, which is also environmentally sustainable, halogen-free, flame-retardant, and reduces the combustible propensities, making the battery remarkably safe to use,” Mitra said.

The new battery technology synthesises a bio-based molecule, capable of commercial-scale production. The research includes a new type of cathode for Li-S batteries, which can help push the promising battery technology to higher performance levels.

“The use of cardanol for Sulfur-based structures as an unconventional application to create cathode materials in this next generation Li-S battery technology has exhibited enhanced capacity retention (among the highest charge capacities reported) and longer battery life in a significantly smaller battery unit. The Sulfur for the battery is sourced from industrial waste and cardanol is sourced from bio-renewable feed-stock that is easily available, non-toxic and environmentally friendly,” Mitra added.

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