Grantham Scholar James Watt’s project aims to create better lithium batteries using a cold sintering route. This will make batteries safer for use.
As people become increasingly dependant on portable electronics in their personal and professional lives, it is important to assess the quality of the storage devices they use.
Currently, lithium-ion batteries are the most widely used energy storage devices. These are found in our phones and watches, as well as in our vehicles and medical devices. They are all around us – but with prolonged use comes the increasing risk of mishandling and damage.
For example, lithium batteries when bent short-out and expand over time, before eventually rupturing and leaking the flammable solvents within. Similarly, puncturing the battery leads to the release of the solvent much faster.
There are solid-state cells on the market which make use of solid electrolytes to transport the lithium ions in place of the current liquid electrolytes. However, these are processed using high-energy thermal sintering methods at temperatures closer to 1000°C.
I will investigate the mechanisms and produce similar solid-state electrolytes by a cold sintering route, which is not well understood at temperatures close to 150°C.
The aim is to vastly reduce energy input – without compromising too much on performance – and to make the processing of these materials more accessible.
Find James Watt’s on LinkedIn.