Deakin University teams up with industry to develop low cost battery solutions

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Deakin University has teamed up with Australian technology company Calix and Melbourne-based specialist chemical manufacturer Boron Molecular to create a new type of battery material that will reduce the cost and environmental impact of high performance batteries.

Led by researchers from Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), the three-year project is being carried out at Calix’s Bacchus Marsh manufacturing facility where researchers are exploring the applications of a readily available compound in comparison to current standard ingredients which are in fact more costly and harder to source.

IFM Deputy Director Professor Maria Forsyth said the team will explore the use of CalixFlash Calcination (CFC) technology to produce customised micron sized nano-electroactive materials for intercalation-based anodes and cathodes.

She said this would be integrated with optimised ionic electrolytes, developed with Boron Molecular and Deakin, to make up to 10 kWh battery pack prototypes at Deakin, through the Battery Technology Research and Innovation Hub (BatTRI-Hub) – a world-class research and innovation centre focused on advanced battery prototyping and the commercialisation of energy storage technologies.

“There is a global search for safe, low cost, high capacity, high performing batteries given the demand for high performance energy storage and electric vehicles,” Professor Forsyth said.

“The challenge for Australia is to develop a sustainable battery manufacturing industry that has global reach through process innovation.”

Team member Patrick Howlett said the project will involve a field trial of the battery packs, including solar applications linked to small solar PV systems and the Deakin Microgrid, currently under development at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, as well as creation of a data-analytics database that will play a vital role in the design process.

Importantly, Mr Howlett said, the project will also develop a roadmap to set out commercialisation pathways and a blueprint for an advanced manufacturing hub of nano-active materials, electrolytes and packing technologies for Australia that will include engagement with minerals providers to account for raw materials requirements.

“We will be using high rate processing technology with Australian materials,” the Professor continued.

“These materials will also have capacity to go into high performance supercapacitors which store charge like a battery and can dispense that charge very quickly.”

The project has received $3 million from the Government’s Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) program, which supports short term industry-led collaborations in new technologies, products and services.

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