Researchers at UBCO working on next-generation battery

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Researchers at UBCO working on next-generation battery
Researchers at UBCO working on next-generation battery – Jan 26, 2022

Researchers at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, B.C., are working on a smaller, more powerful battery than what’s currently available in today’s markets.

According to the Kelowna-based university, the battery project is state-of-the-art, and is also a collaboration that involves Fenix Advanced Materials of Trail, B.C.

The university says while rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are highly popular, there are benefits in developing and designing a smaller and more powerful battery.

The research strengthens Canada’s position in emerging solid-state battery innovation and accelerates electric vehicle (EV) deployment and renewable energy opportunities, says Jian Liu, an assistant professor at UBCO’s School of Engineering.

“Advancements in solid-state batteries are propelling the (electric vehicle) industry forward, along with the added benefit of advancing emerging devices in medicine and communications,” said Liu.

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“All-solid-state, lithium-tellurium batteries enable higher energy output with an improved safety rating inside a smaller form-factor, thereby expanding its possible applications.”

A bank of lithium-tellurium batteries is tested at UBCO’s Advanced Materials for Energy Storage Lab. UBCO

The key ingredient for this project is tellurium, a byproduct of copper, iron and other base-metal-rich ore bodies.

UBCO says tellurium has attracted the attention of researchers because it has high electrical conductivity and a high volumetric capacity. Thanks to Fenix, UBCO’s research team will have the materials, like tellurium and indium, to conduct their project.

“Fenix is very excited and fully committed to this collaboration by committing $1 million over the five-year project,” said Fenix CEO Don Freschi.

“The ultimate goal will be to commercialize these new batteries and continue collaborating with UBCO on many new clean technologies.”

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According to Liu, the added benefit of using tellurium is that manufacturers are reusing a mining waste product.

“The B.C. Interior has a wealth of these raw materials,” said Liu, which bodes well for developing and manufacturing next-generation lithium-tellurium batteries.

“The high purity of the tellurium along with the mineral’s overall attributes makes it ideal as a rechargeable battery material.”

The project is also being supported by the Mitacs Accelerate Program, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation and BC Knowledge Development Fund.

The research has also been published in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science.

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