Chemical engineers at Curtin University have discovered a way to make rechargeable batteries – such as those found in laptops – with extreme capacity, potentially powering electrical cars to run more than 300 kilometres before needing a recharge.
The research, recently published in Nature Communications and led by Dr Jian Liu of Curtin’s Department of Chemical Engineering, demonstrates an innovative procedure for synthesising the material within the electrodes of a Lithium-Sulfur battery – the most popular type of rechargeable battery for portable electronics.
The material produced is a new high surface area porous carbon, spherical or hollow in shape with a controllable size, which is able to improve the diffusion and transportation of Lithium ions in a battery to improve their performance, capacity and life.
“For a long time, there has been significant interest in manufacturing such carbon spheres, because of their tremendous potential in energy conversion and storage,” Dr Liu said.
“We’ve been able to make a novel, efficient and general method for synthesising carbon spheres that are excellent electrode material for potential application in supercapacitors for energy storage or rechargeable batteries.
“The benefit of our technology will potentially transform renewable, emission-free electrical devices and vehicles across the globe – its success could place Australia at the forefront of the emerging energy industry, and assist national sustainability by reducing gas emission and oil dependence.”
Dr Liu said the carbon spheres developed in the work could also be used in other applications such as absorbents for water treatment or as drug or gene delivery vehicles.
He said the new approach was considered to be low cost and suitable for industrial production.
The research was carried out in collaboration with Professor Max Lu from The University of Queensland, Professor Dongyuan Zhao from Fudan University in China and Professor Shi Zhang Qiao from The University of Adelaide.
The publication can be found here.