Aluminum has recently attracted plenty of attention among energy storage researchers, as a potential key material for a “next generation” of battery technologies with capabilities beyond those of today’s lithium-ion batteries.
Alongside aluminum’s relative abundance compared to lithium and many other materials with favorable energy storage characteristics, scientists have noted the potential for aluminum to exchange three electrons per ion, bringing the potential for far higher storage capacities. Taking advantage of this potential, however, has proved challenging. “The core advantage of aluminum-ion batteries (AIBs) is its capability to store multivalent carrier ions to increase the specific capacity of electrode materials,” states a new paper from a group of scientists led by Seoul National University. “Unfortunately, nearly all the cathode materials reported to date operate on the basis of the storage of monovalent complex ions such that the true benefit of AIBs has not been fully taken advantage of.”
In the paper Tetradiketone macrocycle for divalent aluminium ion batteries, published in Nature Communications, this group demonstrates a new cathode material based on organic molecule tetradiketone. The group was able to take advantage of a “radical destabilization” effect within this molecule, which makes storage of multiple electrons per aluminum ion the dominant process within a battery. Based on this, the group was able to design a cathode material with a specific capacity of 350 milliamp-hours per gram, and an operating voltage of 1.3 V. The material also retained 78% of its initial capacity after 8000 cycles.
“This study offers useful insights into the way in which active molecules can be designed to activate their capability of storing divalent aluminium ions and thus take due advantage of multivalent batteries,” the group states. They further suggest that more work on similar molecules in the diketone family and a deeper understanding of the destabilization effect they observed in these materials could lead to more impressive results.
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