Electronics and Semiconductors

Rock salt could lead to cheaper, greener EV batteries

29 May 2024
PhD student Richie Fong conducts research on disordered rock-salt-type cathode materials. The materials could offer an alternative to current metals used in lithium-ion batteries for EVs. Source: McGill University

Researchers from McGill University have developed cathode materials that could usher in cheaper and greener lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs).

Known as disordered rock-salt-type (DRX) cathode materials, the raw materials are more sustainable and less costly metals compared to current cobalt, nickel and other metals that are costly to extract and come with a significant environmental footprint.

McGill researchers issued two studies. The first focused on cathodes, which are considered one of the costliest components of batteries. Traditional lithium-ion batteries contain cobalt and nickel. While Iron is a cheaper alternative, existing iron-based cathodes lack sufficient storage capacity to power EVs.

McGill engineered iron based DRX cathodes by modifying the electron storage process. This allows for the highest storage capacity ever recorded for iron-based cathode materials. McGill researchers said this could slash lithium-ion battery costs by 20%.

The team also developed another sustainable alternative in manganese based DRX (Mn-DRX). This would offer a high energy content at a low cost. Previously, this technology was hindered by low electrical conductivity and structural instability.

Researchers found that multiwalled carbon nanotubes and an adhesive binder as electrode additives, they were able to reach practical-level energy density that’s ever been recorded using Mn-DRX cathodes.

"Our findings hold immense promise for the future of lithium-ion battery development, offering a pathway towards more affordable and sustainable energy storage solutions," said Jinhyuk Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Mining and Materials Engineering at McGill.

The full research can be found in the journal Advanced Energy Materials and Energy & Environmental Science.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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