IRECgrupoweb

Energy Storage and Energy Harvesting group (IREC)

The Energy Storage and Energy Harvesting group (ESEH) investigates in the Catalonia Institut for Energy Research (IREC) in Barcelona.

Its activities are centered in development of new materials and processes for energy storage, both as chemicals (H2 , CH4 , CH3OH ...) and electrochemical technology: batteries and supercapacitors.

The operation in flow batteries started in 2010 with the synthesis and preparation of components, to start evaluating different prototype sizes at laboratory scale one year later. In 2013 a line for diagnosis and prognosis for flow batteries began. The inclusion of semisolid electrolyte, a stable suspension of active substances, has increased the density of energy stored per volume unit. Currently they are developing new organic electrolytes to increase energy density and reduce cost. This alternative has the advantage that the system is greener and cleaner because it does not have any metal in electrolyte composition.

Active projects:

  • BAT LIMET (Ramón Areces prize): Metal free flow batteries for renewable energy storage.
    Design of new prototype of metal free REDOX flow batteries. Batteries diagnosis and prognosis of. New cell concept. Prototype demonstration for the integration of renewable energy.
  • eCUB (Nuclis d'innovació tecnològica): efficient energy storage.
    To meet the electric vehicles market needs the manufacturing technology of electrochemical capacitors, also known as ultracapacitors, it growing. There are two reasons: first nanomaterials and nanotechnology development and second the materials used (Carbonaceous nanostructures) are compatible with the environment. This project is based on the development of supercapacitor prototype based on nanostructured materials. The techniques used for the synthesis of nanostructured materials are inkjet printing and electrospinning. In addition, the electrode-electrolyte interaction will be studied and new cells will be designed. Finally, a test on electric vehicle will be carried out.
  • HELIS (H2020 -Europe)  High energy lithium sulphur cells and bateries
    Lithium sulphur batteries (LSB) are viable candidate for commercialisation among all post Li-ion battery technologies due to their high theoretical energy density and cost effectiveness. Despites many efforts, there are remaining issues that need to be solved and this will provide final direction of LSB technological development. Some of technological aspects, like development of host matrices, interactions of host matrix with polysulphides and interactions between sulphur and electrolyte have been successfully developed within Eurolis project. Open porosity of the cathode, interactions between host matrices and polysulphides and proper solvatation of polysulphides turned to be important for complete utilisation of sulphur, however with this approach didn’t result long term cycling. Additionally we showed that effective separation between electrodes enables stable cycling with excellent coulombic efficiency. The remaining issues are mainly connected with a stability of lithium anode during cycling, with engineering of complete cell and with questions about LSB cells implementation into commercial products (ageing, safety, recycling, battery packs). Instability of lithium metal in most of conventional electrolytes and formation of dendrites due to uneven distribution of lithium upon the deposition cause several difficulties. Safety problems connected with dendrites and low coulombic efficiency with a constant increase of inner resistance due to electrolyte degradation represent main technological challenges. From this point of view, stabilisation of lithium metal will have an impact on safety issues. Stabilised interface layer is important from view of engineering of cathode composite and separator porosity since this is important parameter for electrolyte accommodation and volume expansion adjustment. Finally the mechanism of LSB ageing can determine the practical applicability of LSB in different applications.
  • INFLUENCE (FP7-Europe) Interfaces of Fluid Electrodes: New Conceptual Explorations
    The project proposal InFluENCE aims at improving the fundamental understanding and control of interfaces of a battery type based on Li-ion and Na-ion active materials: semi solid flow batteries (SSFB). The fact that the case study will be a SSFB set-up instead of classic lithium ion batteries is an asset, given that the methods and techniques developed are generic and could as well be implemented for conventional Li- and Na-ion systems for the techniques that are not concentrated on flow aspects.A main objective is the investigation and optimization of the interfaces developing between the electrolyte and the electrochemically active material particles in fluid electrodes. The acquired knowledge would allow the chemical and morphological optimization of active materials as well as the design of optimized interfacial layers (also called artificial Solid Electrolyte Interfaces, art-SEI) capable of warrant stable interfaces.

    A second main objective is the understanding and control the mechanical and conductive behaviours of the slurries. For this, it is necessary to determine the role of shape anisotropy and the overall nature (attractive or repulsive) of the short ranged interactions of the active materials besides the strength of the attractive forces for conductive nano-particles. The cross interaction should allow intimate contact between active material and the conductive particles.

    The experimental work is accompanied by thorough modelling to understand the physical phenomena occurring at the microscopic scale, to derive scaling rules towards macro-scale and to enable design recommendations leading to optimal interface behaviour (size of anodic and cathodic compartments, geometry of collectors, etc.).

Staff:

  • Prof. Dr. Joan Ramon Morante: general director of IREC and group leader.
  • Dr. Cristina Flox: researcher.
  • Dr. Jordi Jacas: researcher.
  • Dr. Laura Sanz: researcher/engineer.
  • Avireddy Hemesh: PhD student.
  • Francisco Javier Vázquez: PhD student.
  • Dr. Miriam González: laboratory technician.