Aston University research lithium-ion battery material

Aston University researchers are to explore the use of gel electrolyte materials to make lithium-ion batteries used for electric vehicles safer and less environmentally-damaging.

Academics have received a grant of £443,058 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop safe, reliable, sustainable and commercially relevant gel electrolyte materials.

Currently batteries and other energy storage devices use flammable solvents and fossil fuel-derived materials with poor thermal and chemical stability.

The researchers will develop renewable ionogels which conduct electrically charged ions and could replace more harmful components.

The Aston University team is led by chemistry lecturer Dr Matt Derry, who is based in the University’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

In addition to the research grant to start on 1 March 2024, Dr Derry and his team have just had a paper published in Chemical Science, on the issue.

He said: “There is a need to identify new solutions for sustainable energy storage but one of the biggest barriers to the uptake of renewable energy is the lack of scalable methods of storing electrical energy.

“We will create recyclable gel electrolytes using non-harmful, non-flammable and renewably sourced materials for next generation battery technologies.”

“This transformative research programme will deliver new sustainable, responsive ionogel materials which are easier to manufacture.

“The ionogels developed in this project will help to address the significant shortcomings in the underutilisation of renewable energy in the coming years and will contribute to the UK’s drive to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Given the desperate need for sustainable energy storage solutions, as recognised by the UN with Sustainable Development Goal 7 on affordable and clean energy, the proposed research is timely and impactful.”

The research project will end in February 2027.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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