Assistant Professor Ekaterina Pomerantseva has been awarded a three-year $360,000 National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research grant through the Solid State and Materials Chemistry program for her project "Advanced Electrochemistry of Na-ion Battery Cathodes Through Chemically Controlled Materials Synthesis."
Lithium-ion batteries remain the most used energy storage device for portable electronics and electric cars. At the heart of their operation are intercalation reactions, usually based on a reversible process involving introduction of a guest species into a host electrode material. As a limited resource, the cost of lithium is likely to rise significantly over time, and as a result research directions have shifted towards investigation of alternative intercalation systems, such as sodium-ion batteries. Compared to lithium ion, however, their larger size and greater weight limits intercalation and the diffusion of sodium ions through common electrode materials. This results in significant electrode degradation (thereby resulting in capacity loss after the first cycle and reduced cycle life) and limitations in operation at high current rates. With support from the Solid State and Materials Chemistry program of the NSF Division of Materials Research, Pomerantseva's project focuses on addressing these shortcomings through chemical pre-intercalation of specific types and amounts of inorganic ions. The proposed work has the potential to enable the development of sodium-ion battery cathodes that can be used to replace current lithium-ion batteries, providing sustainable energy storage that is cheaper, reliable, and environmentally friendly, contributing to the development of next-generation energy storage systems for transportation, grid-storage and other renewable energy applications.