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Advances and challenges in developing sustainable battery materials

Nowadays, electricity has become a basic need for human beings. However, 49% of the world's population  in rural areas of least developed countries still cannot access it nor the social progress that it entails. Supplying energy in isolated and remote areas (off-grid) just by extending the existing electricity network is usually unfeasible due to the cost of the facilities, since it is often not only a matter of distance but also natural barriers may prevent it. On the other hand, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and harmful pollutant agents into the atmosphere, produced by fossil fuel combustion in industrialized countries, should be a priority action to mitigate climate change and associated diseases. For all these reasons, the application of more effective, safer and environmentally friendly methods of electricity generation and storage are needed globally.

Among electrochemical energy storage devices, batteries excel due to their versatility. However, the transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon emitting technologies will provoke an increase in batteries demand and consequently in the production of their raw materials.  Some of these materials are lithium, cobalt, vanadium, cupper or aluminium and their extraction and preparation processes are complex, pollution producing and can cause problems to the enviroment and human health. Therefore, the substitution of some of these materials and the seeking of alternatives must be a priority in the next years.

Reciently a review of new advances to develop green and advanced materials for battery components for future sustainable batteries has been published in the scientific journal Sustainable Energy and Fuels*. Specifically, the cases of sodium-ion and potassium-ion batteries with organic active materials are studied as alternatives to lithium-ion batteries. To replace the currently used vanadium-based flow batteries, the different studies in which the metallic species are replaced by organic molecules and polymers based on active groups such as nitroxides and quinones are reviewed. The study also addresses the analysis of sustainable polymeric materials for solid state batteries. Further, in this overview the authors also highlight both current second-life and end-of-life battery disposal sustainable strategies that are applied towards a zero-carbon future. IMDEA Energy has participated in the elaboration of this review in colaboration with researcher from Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and Spanish Research Council (CSIC)

(*)  Navalpotro, P.; Castillo-Martínez, E.; Carretero-González, J.  Sustainable materials for off-grid battery applications: Advances, challenges and prospects. Sustainable Energy and Fuels, 2021, 5 (2), 310-331. https://doi.org/10.1039/D0SE01338B

More information: Paula Navalpotro, postdoctoral researcher, Electrochemical Processes Unit, paula.navalpotro@imdea.org


Schematic representation of sustainable battery production

Event Date: 
Monday, July 19, 2021