Is This The Future Of Energy Storage?

Scientists have tried for years to make lithium-oxygen batteries a viable energy storage solution by overcoming some of the challenges for the commercial use of this type of battery. So far, the challenges have been greater than the sum of the possible solutions.
Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a new strategy to address the limitations of the lithium-oxygen battery by stabilizing the electrocatalysts at the atomic level within organometallic frameworks (MOFs).
According to the team of scientists led by Professor Jeung Ku Kang, "This new strategy ensures high performance for lithium-oxygen batteries that are recognized as next-generation energy storage technology."
Typically, lithium-oxygen batteries are known for their much higher energy density than the much more popular lithium-ion batteries that are widely used in electronics, electric vehicles, and energy storage devices.
Lithium-oxygen batteries can produce an energy density up to ten times higher - that is the amount of energy that a system contains compared to its mass - than Li-ion batteries. However, the battery chemistry in a lithium-oxygen battery corrodes the components of the battery, deteriorates the battery, and limits its ability to charge and commercial use with such a poor life.
KAIST researchers have found that chemical reactions in the subnanometric pores of organometallic frameworks (MOFs) can be stabilized, and their new strategy has shown a ten-fold improvement in the life cycle of lithium-oxygen batteries.
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"The simultaneous generation and stabilization of electrocatalysts at the atomic level in MOFs can diversify materials according to numerous combinations of metal and organic linkers. It can not only expand the development of electrocatalysts, but also various research areas such as photocatalysts, medicine, the environment and petrochemicals," Professor Kang said in a statement.
The KAIST researchers' study is the latest in which scientists are trying to find ways to make high-energy, low-weight lithium-oxygen batteries a viable solution for energy storage by addressing current problems of this type of battery .
Two years ago, chemists from the University of Waterloo said they had solved the problem of cell chemistry, in which superoxide and lithium peroxide react with the carbon cathode and degrade the battery cell. The researchers replaced the organic electrolyte with a more stable inorganic salt melt and the porous carbon cathode with a bifunctional metal oxide catalyst.
"By replacing the electrolyte and electrode host and increasing the temperature, we are demonstrating that the system is performing remarkably well," said Linda Nazar, Canadian solid state energy materials research chair and lead author of the project.
"This discovery shows immense opportunities ... to enable new battery technologies that may compete with lithium-ion batteries and other storage technologies," wrote MIT researchers in a commentary on the work of the University of Waterloo scientists.
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However, commercial production of lithium-oxygen batteries could be more than a decade away, Nazar told MIT Technology Review in 2018.
The University of Kansas is also researching lithium-oxygen batteries and how to overcome the challenges of commercialization.
"If you use lithium-oxygen batteries for an electric car, you can drive 500 miles, but you cannot accelerate very quickly. Driving a few miles an hour is not much fun," said Xianglin Li, assistant professor of mechanical engineering for 2019 received a scholarship to study lithium-oxygen batteries at the University of Kansas said last year.
"As far as I know, almost all lithium-oxygen batteries are still in the research phase and the technology does not yet have a very large market. Performance, stability and lifespan are all problems for lithium-oxygen batteries in the 1970s and 1980s Lithium-ion batteries have similar problems, "said Li.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for
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