Nanomaterials for sustainable and safe batteries
Batteries are all around you: in your phone, your laptop or in electric cars, for example. The latest generation of batteries still contain too little energy, are a fire hazard and charge slowly. MESA+ wants to change this and is working on sustainable and safe batteries for the future.
When it comes to better-performing batteries, for example for electronic transport or as a buffer in the electricity grid, it is all about faster charging and discharging. But it is not only that: it is also about a higher energy density leading to more compact and lighter batteries. It is often a trade-off between one and the other. There is a worldwide search for new materials and for producing batteries more sustainably.
Scientists at MESA+ have discovered a new material called nickel niobate: a material that has very attractive properties and that even after many times of ultra-fast charging continues to return to its former level of performance. This is partly due to its attractive 'open' and regular crystal structure: the channels for ion transport are identical. It means that it has advantages over the standard anode material graphite. This too is an 'open' material that is easy to make, but after being charged too quickly several times, it does not return to its former level of performance or even breaks down. Researchers at MESA+ think that the internal structure at the nanoscale in nickel niobate could also be suitable for sustainable alternatives to lithium, such as sodium.