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Innovative battery technology - storing energy from renewable sources

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Publication Date: 
October 2020
Case study from: Collaborating with India on science and research

Demand for batteries has the potential to increase in coming decades. Innovations in battery technologies will play a key role in the world economy. This is because it will be less dependent on fossil fuels.

In the future, these innovations mean improvements in storing energy from renewable sources. Renewable sources are solar, wind, and tide.

Batteries could one day be powering our homes and electric vehicles. Efficiently stored energy can also help to stabilise our electricity systems during periods of peak demand.

There are ongoing concerns with lithium-ion battery technology. Often, raw materials for lithium-ion batteries can be scarce. Mining those raw materials often comes with environmental and safety issues. It is these concerns that are driving the search for alternative technologies.

With innovation, energy storage technologies can be efficient and high-performing. Better storage technologies can lead to a future that is:

  • more affordable
  • clean energy
  • zero-carbon

Australia-India Strategic Research Fund

Professor Maria Forsyth led a joint team for research into better batteries. Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials partnered with the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and Monash University also contributed their expertise.

The Australian project team received almost $1 million from the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.

Their landmark research established that inexpensive and high-performance batteries are achievable. In comparison to lithium-ion batteries, these batteries use commonplace and inexpensive sodium salts.

The team used molecular simulations and experimental design. They demonstrated a battery with a sodium metal anode and safe, high performing ionic liquid electrolytes.

Industry partner involvement in prototyping spurred further initiatives in next-generation energy storage. This resulted in tested cell prototypes with lithium or sodium combinations.

The project’s discoveries have attracted other potential industry partners. There are opportunities for the technology to be integrated into electric vehicles and in the home. These batteries could be powering households and industries worldwide in the future.

Research partners in both countries have deepened scientific collaboration. Researchers conducted regular:

  • video networking
  • face-to-face meetings
  • project team workshops
  • reciprocal research

Throughout this project, energy materials researchers received training that has strengthened India-Australia collaborations. Involving PhD students in the project has deepened the ranks of the next generation of researchers.

The research results are published in high-impact journals. The team also presented their research at several conferences worldwide.

The AISRF-funded research paves the way for novel lithium and sodium energy storage applications.

Overall the project addressed an issue of significant importance to both countries. The project demonstrated how enduring economic, environmental and social benefits is possible with enhanced battery technologies.

There are plans for upscaling the prototyping facilities into a pilot facility. There is an intention to develop a start-up to utilise and build on some of the AISRF outcomes.

Team leaders

Australian Team Leader:
Professor Maria Forsyth, Deakin University.

Indian Team Leader:
Associate Professor Aninda Jiban Bhattacharyya, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.