Energy storage research takes centre stage

Update from storEnergy Director, Prof Maria Forsyth

storEnergy researchers have been travelling the Australian east coast over recent weeks, attending conferences and showcasing their hard work of the past few years.
The conference season started off in Sydney at the International Meeting for Lithium Batteries (IMLB2022), hosted by storEnergy partners at CSIRO. Among the attendees was 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Stanley Whittingham. Other notable plenary speakers were Professor Dame Clare Grey (University of Cambridge), Professor Atsuo Yamada (University of Tokyo) and Professor Jeff Dahn (Dalhousie University).
I also gave a plenary address on the topic of ‘Lithium metal batteries enabled by next generation electrolytes.  A key focus of the conference was the importance of energy storage and the role that batteries will play in driving the renewable energy revolution. High voltage cathodes and the role they can play in fast charging high-capacity devices was certainly the hot topic. Dr Cristina Pozo-Gonzalo highlighted the value of critical raw materials and the need to reuse, recover and recycle these to push towards a circular economy. storEnergy PhD student Mojtaba Eftekharnia was invited to speak about his work on the importance of compression in lithium metal batteries, following his award from the Australian Battery Society. Other members of our ECR team were out in force in the poster sessions with work from: Dr Binayak Roy, Dale Duncan (Monash), Dr Jenny Sun, Dr Faezeh Makhlooghiazad, Greg Rollo-Walker (Deakin), and Dr Darebin Wang (Calix).
Before IMLB had even finished, the International Symposium on Clean Energy Materials started on the Gold Coast. Professor Douglas Macfarlane took part in a panel discussion on hydrogen and renewable energies before giving his own plenary on replacing fossil fuels with ammonia. Meanwhile, Professor Jenny Pringle and I presented work on our electrolyte systems for next generation batteries.
At Brisbane, parts of the team re-joined, with a few new faces, for the Royal Australian Chemical Institute National Congress 2022. The theme of the meeting was ‘Catalysing Solution to Global Challenges’, with talks crossing all facets of chemistry from education to healthcare to energy. I gave a plenary overview of our work in electrolytes and then an invited talk on sodium batteries, while other storEnergy leaders Professors Douglas Macfarlane, Jenny Pringle, Dan Li, Dr Cristina Pozo-Gonzalo and Dr Mega Kar also gave invited talks. ECRs, including Dr Binayak Roy, Dr Jenny Sun, Dr Faezeh Makhlooghiazad and Greg Rollo-Walker delivered insightful talks on their projects in novel lithium salts, sodium-ion batteries, novel electrolytes for Lithium battery applications, and block co-polymer synthesis, respectively. Last but not least, PhD student Anna Warrington and affiliate Azra Sourjah received commendations for their posters, with Anna a runner-up in the Victorian Women in Chemistry award, while Azra took top honours with best poster in the future green energy materials cohort.
Overall, it has been an exciting and busy couple of weeks for the team, with plenty of inspiration to take forward into the rest of the year.