Researchers at University of Illinois, Chicago have developed a range of 2D materials which will boost electric vehicle capacity to traverse 400-500 miles in a single charge. Currently Lithium-ion batteries are used in electric cars, but new lithium-air batteries have shown comparative advantage over the lithium-ion batteries which has 10 times enhanced capacity. Although lithium-air batteries are still in early stages of development, the new 2D materials developed by the researchers if adopted in in catalysts could upgrade its capacities to new highs.
Catalysts play a crucial role in boosting the rate of chemical reactions inside a battery. The rate of chemical reactions depend on the material used for catalysis. The new 2D material on incorporation into lithium-air batteries enhances battery’s efficiency in holding power to 10 times the capacity level when traditional catalysts were used.
Two dimensional materials are materials with thickness of a few nanometers, these materials owing to their crystalline single layered structure offers electrons the freedom to move in their two dimensional space. This has given these materials an edge over others in photovoltaic, semiconductor and electrode applications. The scientists at UIC, synthesized 15 types of 2D transition metal dichalcogenides or TMDCs. TMDC have a unique property and molecular structure which enhances their electronic conductivity and speed of electron transfer which makes them peculiarly suited for speedier reactions with other materials.
The research student at UIC, Leily Majidi, said that after testing the performance of 15 TMDC’s in mimicked electrochemical system of lithium-air battery, they found that the TMDCs have much better reactive surface area and superior electronic conductivity which enables them to react with electrochemical reactions without destabilizing the structure. The reaction rates are significantly higher than those in case of traditional catalysts like gold or platinum. The 2D TMDC’s helped in speedily charging as well as discharging reactions that occur in lithium-air batteries. The material has shown greater synergy with electrolyte which helps ions move during charging and discharging.
Associate professor at UIC, Salehi Khojin, said that currently electric vehicles on average can go for 100 mile in single charge, with the successful incorporation of the 2D TMDCs in lithium-air batteries an average closer to 400-500 miles per single charge could be achieved. This will be a true game changer for both energy storage and e-mobility.
The research which was partly supported by National Science Foundation grant, was published in journal Advanced Materials.