Lithium-ion batteries have become a ubiquitous and essential part of everyday life, whether in smartphones, laptops or electric cars. Their wide usage is based on their high energy density, which enables efficient use of electrical devices with lightweight rechargeable batteries. The continuous technological progress requires an increase in battery performance while considering sustainable production. In the design of Li-ion batteries, the cathode is the key component. Common cathode materials have disadvantages despite their worldwide optimization: they are either too expensive or not efficient, or they contain substances that do not satisfy the aspect of sustainability. For example, Li-ion batteries still contain cobalt, as an essential raw material which is toxic and its mining raises social issues. There is a need for innovative materials that are cost-effective, efficient and at the same time environmentally.
In the LUKSIAK project funded by the Sächsische Aufbaubank (ID:100350438, 01.01.2019 - 31.10.2021), scientists at IFW Dresden are researching a novel structure type of cathode materials. Lithium-rich antiperovskites are considered environmentally friendly, cost-effective and non-toxic alternative. However, it suffers from poor cycling stabilities, which hinder its practical application. Analysis of the electrochemical processes during battery operation was an essential part of the project. By optimizing the chemical composition of the novel cathodes, their lifetime was significantly increased. In addition, larger quantities (>20 g) can be produced in a simple and environmentally friendly process. This represents an important step towards commercialization.
An animated video shows how these novel cathode materials can be produced completely without cobalt and what advantages they have over current products (Youtube).
Dr. Nico Gräßler