Current residential batteries, which are based on the Li ion technology, have high cost, low safety and poor recyclability. Aqueous Zn-ion battery technology could be a promising alternative since it is low cost, absolutely safe (due to benign water-based electrolyte), easy to manufacture and amenable to full recycling. However, to make the Zn-ion battery commercially attractive, it is important to improve its energy density and durability without compromising on the other metrics. One such solution is to add a small amount of additives in the water electrolyte that can inhibit zinc corrosion at the anode and thus can favorably impact the durability and energy density metrics.
In this project, you will be exposed to a combination of experimental and theoretical methods to discover new, potent additive molecules. Specifically, you will learn to predict such new additive molecules using theory and then test your predictions by building a battery prototype in the lab. In parallel, you will develop an understanding of the Australian/global battery storage market and various competitive battery technologies, to see how the Zn-ion technology fits into the market.
Energy storage | Electrochemistry | Techno-economic analysis
The School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW, where the project activities will take place, has all the necessary resources and technical support to execute the project effectively. Dr. Dipan Kundu has access to advanced electrochemical characterisations facilities through the Laboratory for Battery Research and Innovation (LBRI, UNSW) and the Energy Research cluster at Chemical Engineering, UNSW. Dr. Priyank Kumar has access to the NCI supercomputing facility, Gadi, where computations can be carried out. Open-source python libraries and compute platforms (like Google Colab) will also be used, which are readily available.