Building a better battery
Anita Sthankiya - Aug 21, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo Credit: UBCO

Researchers at UBC Okanagan are working to design and develop a new battery that is smaller and more powerful than anything currently on the market.

With the help of Fenix Advanced Materials in Trail, the UBCO team is using raw materials to create a tellurium-based cathode, which is a tiny device that will be used to make all-solid-state, lithium-tellurium batteries.

Tellurium is a rare metal byproduct of copper and lead-zinc smelting and has characteristics that will enable miniature, all soild-state lithium-tellurium battery devices with both high energy density and a high safety rating.

Global demand is at an all time high with the rapid expanding use of portable electronics and growing interest for electronic vehicles.

“Improvements are necessary thanks to many other emerging devices such as medical implants, wireless sensors and radio-frequency identification. Due to the limited space and high reliability requirements in these new devices, researchers are exploring technologies that possess high-energy density and more stable configurations,” explained Jian Liu, an assistant professor in the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan.

Liu says that one tellurium atom can store two lithium ions and two electrons, making it a potent material for storing and releasing electricity.

“Due to its high density, tellurium provides a much higher volumetric capacity than other cathode materials, such as sulfur and selenium,” adds Liu. “With the advantages of high volumetric energy density and excellent safety, all-solid-state lithium-tellurium batteries have the potential to power high-end electronic applications where a smaller size, but higher energy output is required.”

Additional collaborations between UBC, Fenix and other research institutions including the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan and the Flemish Institute for Technological Research in Belgium are currently being discussed.

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