Unveiled the mechanism governing calcium-sulfur batteries


Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are powering a large number of devices, ranging from smartphones to trucks. Currently, the demand for batteries is driven by electric vehicles (EV), which sales appear to be further accelerating during this pandemic. Such a large, and yet growing, demand for energy materials raises questions about the resource availability and the connected geopolitical issues. For these reasons, extensive research efforts are put towards new generation post-lithium batteries. Indeed, elements such as sodium, calcium and sulfur are cheap, readily available and can replace lithium and cobalt, which are only available in exploitable amounts in few areas such as Latin America and Congo, and which cost may vary in the future depending on the geopolitical developments.

Below the interview with Lorenzo Stievano and Iztok Arčon on their research on new energy materials

Professors Robert Dominko (National Institute of Chemistry in Ljubljana) and Lorenzo Stievano (Institut Charles Gerhardt in Montpellier) presented a promising proof-of-concept calcium-sulfur (Ca/S) battery working at room temperature, which showed interesting features. Synchrotron light techniques, such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), were employed at the XAFS beamline at the Italian CERIC partner facility, Elettra Synchrotron, to gather fundamental insights into the electrochemical mechanisms governing Ca/S batteries showing encouraging results, especially considering their potential applications. Currently, a pronounced capacity fading is affecting the concept, but the knowledge built in this work is fundamental for improving such a technology, in the path toward its commercialisation. Improving our knowledge on sustainable post-lithium battery technologies will allow the change of paradigm from fossil fuels to clean energy without shifting from a problematic energy material to another.

Below the speech given by Lorenzo Stievano at ESOF2020 in Trieste (in Italian)


Spectroscopic Insights into the Electrochemical Mechanism of Rechargeable Calcium/Sulfur Batteries. Scafuri A., Berthelot R., Pirnat K., Vizintin A., Bitenc J., Aquilanti G., Foix D., Dedryvère R., Arčon I., Dominko R., Stievano L., Chemistry of Materials, 2020.

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