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Looking into the potential of lithium batteries

The demands for advanced energy storage devices is always increasing. The social and technological benefits of storing energy are important in renewable energy technology, the electric vehicle, rural electricity, miniaturized and portable electronics and aerospace applications, for example. Each of these applications has different requirements but safety, environmental protection and cost effective production are necessary for all batteries. Lithium has a high energy density and generates high voltages when used as an electrode. However, its use in rechargeable batteries has been rejected due to internal short circuits leading to explosions.

Rocking chair batteries, where both the positive and the negative electrodes reversibly intercalate lithium and show a back and forth motion of lithium ions during the cell charge and discharge, aim to solve this problem. Oxides, sulphides and petrol cokes which can take up and release lithium ions have been used. To optimize these batteries and thus develop marketable products, a number of new and previously known materials suitable for the anode, cathode and electrolyte were studied with respect to a number of properties. These included power performance, the effect of current density, cycle and calendar life and self-discharge rates. Researchwas carried out into layered and three dimensional inorganic solids for their use in positive electrodes (3 to 4 V), intermediate potential electrodes (1 to 3 V), as well as negative electrodes.

The structures of the materials were characterized and detailed thermodynamic and kinetic studies on the proposed battery materials were carried out. The fundamental mechanisms involved in the movement of the lithium ions were considered and the potential applicability for commercial battery prototypes in 4 case studies of rocking chair batteries were tested. Through this work, expertise in the field was transferred and many materials were tested for their potential in battery applications.

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Universidad de Córdoba
Avda. San Alberto Magno s/n
14004 Córdoba
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