According to foreign media reports, researchers at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) say that adding tellurium, an industrial by-product of copper and lead-zinc smelting processing, to lithium-sulfur batteries may create smaller, safer and cheaper electric vehicles. Automotive (EV) batteries and double their capacity.
The PICS research project, titled “Tellurium Boosted Li-S Batteries for Zero-Emission Vehicles”, is a three-year project by the University of British Columbia (UBC) Co-hosted with the University of Victoria. The project has received a total investment of $180,000 and is funded by the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Low Carbon Innovation of the Government of British Columbia (BC) through the Go Electric project.
(Image credit: Victoria University)
Project principal investigator Jian Liu, an assistant professor at UBC Okanagan, said tellurium has high conductivity and high volume, allowing for greater energy storage than traditional EV lithium-ion batteries and faster charge and discharge rates. This suggests that it will be possible to increase the EV’s range and provide convenience for the driver. “Sulfur batteries have been studied for many years, but commercializing them is very challenging because sulfur does not transport electrons at all,” Liu said. “So we were looking for a way to balance electron conductivity and energy density,” said Liu. Thus realizing the feasibility of lithium-sulfur batteries.”
Liu said there are significant limitations to adding tellurium to lithium-sulfur batteries, such as tellurium’s tendency to expand and contract. But the researchers believe that this problem can be overcome by making stable compounds inside the battery. In addition, solid-state tellurium batteries may be safer than conventional lithium-ion batteries that use flammable liquid electrolytes.
To create a sustainable battery industry, the research project aims to repurpose industrial waste into high-value products and to recover and reuse tellurium from end-of-life tellurium batteries. Bentley Allan, deputy director of PICS, said if technically successful, the project would accelerate the electrification of transport and the transition to decarbonised energy.
“Improving the range and safety of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) will help accelerate their adoption around the world,” Allan said. “Supporting recycling of raw materials can also move towards a sustainable circular economy. In addition, for British Columbia, The industry partnerships at the heart of this project are critical to its establishment of a green industry.”
Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation, said: “BC has the highest EV usage in North America, and has many local companies in the EV supply chain, so it is poised to be a leader in the industry. That’s what we’ve chosen to support innovation. Reasons for ZEV technologies. These technologies will leverage BC minerals and metals by-products, help BC transition to a low-carbon economy, and play an important role in the development of Canada’s national EV battery supply chain.”
The UBC-led PICS project has received support from various parties, including the Government of British Columbia, GLBAT Solid State Battery, the Nature Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the National Research Council, Canada The Canada Foundation for Innovation, the BC Knowledge Development Fund, and the Mitacs Accelerator Program.
“By using tellurium by-products and waste sulfur from oil sands refineries, this project could reduce the extraction of new materials other than lithium needed for EV batteries,” Allan said. “Essentially, the project is introducing waste products into the In high value-added products, this can be a win-win for climate and sustainability.”
Author: Liu Liting
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