Electrochemical energy conversion technologies

Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology at FTMC researches and develops ion insertion batteries based on framework (phosphate, hexacyanometalate) materials and simple aqueous electrolyte solutions. The focus is on sodium and zinc-ion batteries which would be suitable for stationary energy storage and could provide a cheaper, more environmentally friendly and safer alternative to the lithium-ion batteries. The processes affecting electrode stability and capacity loss are being investigated, and mitigation strategies are developed by modifying the composition of the electrochemically active material or electrolyte, or by forming ultra-thin protective coatings on the electrode surface. A technology has been developed to stabilise the performance of a capacity-balanced aqueous Na-ion battery using highly reducing low concentration electrolyte additives. Theoretical modelling methods based on density functional theory are applied to understand the thermodynamics of phase formation, the nature of chemical bonding, and the stability of the materials used for energy conversion.

Another area of expertise is related to photoelectrochemical or 'artificial photosynthesis' technologies, which convert the energy of light into high-value-added chemicals, such as hydrogen and strong oxidizing agents, which are suitable for water disinfection and degradation of a wide range of pollutants. The formation of reactive chlorine and sulphur species with almost 100% faradaic efficiency has been found to take place in a photoelectrochemical system that utilizes simple electrolytes and metal oxide photoelectrodes. Effective bactericidal and pharmaceutical pollutant degrading effects of photoelectrolysis have been demonstrated.

The competence of these methods is gathered: