Alexandre Ponrouch wins an ERC Consolidator Grant to develop safe and energy dense multi-metal anode batteries
Alexandre Ponrouch, from the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), has been awarded a 2022 ERC Consolidator Grant (ERC-CoG) from the European Research Council.
Alexandre Ponrouch, researcher of the Solid State Chemistry Research Unit at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), has received a total of 1.9 million euros in funding to develop his MULTIMETALBAT ERC-CoG project “Multi-metal anode: Towards safe and energy dense batteries” during the next 5 years.
“The main goals of the project are to unlock the safe use of metal anodes for next generation batteries, achieving smooth and dense electrodeposition of metal (thus avoiding the typical dendrite formation on the electrodes), to improve batteries cycle life by stabilizing the interfaces between electrode and electrolyte, and to achieve a better understanding of the electrodeposition mechanisms and metallurgy of metal anodes” explains Ponrouch.
“The main targeted applications of the project are e-mobility and grid storage depending on power performances and cost of such batteries. In both cases, avoiding the use of critical raw materials will be key for large scale implementation” he concludes.
The importance of the electrolyte
Lithium metal is considered to be the holy grail anode material for batteries, due to its fantastic well-known properties. Currently, metal anode based batteries represent the main viable option towards a leapfrog in terms of energy density when compared with current Li-ion technology. Therefore, tremendous efforts from the battery community have been devoted to other type of systems, such Li-air, Li-Sulfur and, more recently, solid state batteries.
Unfortunately, all of these technologies suffer from the Lithium tendency to grow dendrites, whiskers and/or mossy structures during its electrodeposition. These can pierce the separator or the solid electrolyte and short-circuit the cell. Such event, besides causing cell failure, could be the first step towards a fire hazard if flammable electrolyte is being used.
To avoid dendritic growth, a smooth Lithium metal electrodeposition on the electrode is required, which highly depends on the composition and stability of the electrolyte and on the type of interface it forms onto the electrode. However, after several decades of research, it is virtually impossible to prepare this type of batteries that can sustain thousands of cycles in real battery operation conditions.
Achieving smooth and dense electrodeposition of metal hold promise for unlocking the development of next generation batteries with significantly higher energy density than Li-ion (also prone to dendrite formation), being both safer, lower cost and more sustainable.
The main objective of MULTIMETALBAT is to bring a new paradigm for metal anode by developing electrolytes containing multiple cations (Li+, Na+, K+, Ca2+ or Mg2+) which will modify the overall thermodynamics of plating and stripping when compared with conventional single metal anode.
Alexandre Ponrouch in the Lab at ICMAB | ICMAB, CSIC
About Alexandre Ponrouch
Alexandre Ponrouch received his PhD in 2010 from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS-EMT, Québec, Canada) working on electrodeposition of metals, alloys, and oxides nanotubes and nanowires for application in fuel cells and supercapacitors. He is currently staff researcher at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB, CSIC).
His research is mainly focused on fundamental electrochemistry applied to the development of new electrolytes, interfaces, and interphases for post Lithium batteries, including Sodium-ion, Calcium and Magnesium (ERC StG2016, CAMBAT) and multi cations based batteries (ERC CoG2022, MULTIMETALBAT).
About the ERC
The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept Grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between their pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.
The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. Since 1 November 2021, Maria Leptin is the new President of the ERC. The overall ERC budget from 2021 to 2027 is more than €16 billion, as part of the Horizon Europe programme, under the responsibility of the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
Funded by the European Union (ERC-2022-COG, MULTIMETALBAT)). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.