Annual symposium – it’s a wrap

More than 100 participants from universities and industry all round Australia as well as some invited guests from Spain attended storEnergy’s annual 2022 symposium in November.

The symposium kicked off with an insightful talk from Dr Monsterrat Galcerán Mestres from CIC EnergiGUNE on the status of sodium-ion battery technology and where it must go to match its lithium-ion counterparts. This was followed by Maria Vrakopoulou (Monash University) highlighting the necessity for flexible controls to help manage the variability of renewable energy sources. Then,  A/Prof Rob Kerr (Deakin University) spoke from his recent experience working at Fortescue Future Industries about how the steel industry can go green.

Professor Jenny Pringle demonstrated the latest work from her group on ionic liquid and organic ionic plastic crystal electrolytes her group have been studying. Sticking with new materials, Dr Mega Kar (Deakin University) then presented her large borate anions and how they can improve the oxidative stability for this family of anions. Professor Drew Evans offered some great examples of how the Future Industries Institute at UniSA has translated their materials research into practise, before Max Coulthard wrapped up the session educating the room on REDEI and their work on ensuring batteries are fit for the user’s purpose.

In the final session, Dr Karolina Matuszek (Monash University) presented her work on thermal storage systems; followed by Dr Jenny Sun (Deakin University) with an insight into a green approach for producing sodium-ion batteries. While the sun was on the way down in Melbourne, the day had only begun in Spain for Dr Nerea Casado (POLYMAT) as she presented her work on polymer electrolytes as binder materials in battery devices.

Day one wrapped up with our ECRs presenting their work in a poster session ranging from development of new materials to the recycling of end-of life appliances.

The fruitful discussions of the first day set a high bar high for the second day which began with a workshop focused on the upscaling of battery technologies.

The first panel started with invited speaker Dr. Maria Martinez-Ibañez (CIC EnergiGUNE) highlighting the extensive work required to design an adequate lithium salt for solid polymer electrolytes. Dawson Johns from Zenaji then gave a comprehensive overview of the commercial value of lithium titanate chemistries for various applications. The session ended with Dr. Adam Bumpus from Redgrid, and a decentralized proposal of community-focused energy networks to retain value locally.

More application-driven talks followed in the next session, with Christiaan Jordaan from Sicona Battery Technologies reporting their fast growth experience in the highly competitive market of silicon-based anodes, which started a discussion on the opportunities for Australia in the battery market. Joeri Baetens from Relectrify  talked about critical battery management systems  and his company’s new technologies to increase battery life. Finally, Shannon O’Rourke, CEO of the Future Battery Industries CRC inspired the audience with the ‘handful of aces’ Australia has and should be playing to win in the emerging battery economy.

Knowledge transfer and collaborations between academy and industry were reinforced in the last session of the symposium, starting with Dr. Scott Edwards from EntX and his example of multiple cutting-edge technologies made possible through academic partnerships. A good example of such techniques was demonstrated by Dr. Minkyung Kang from Deakin University, with an in-house design of electrochemical microscopy for fast studies on electrodes. Last but not least, Peter Hansford reinstated how well-positioned Deakin is to be at the front of this novel energy age that we are transitioning to.

The event was wrapped up with the poster prizes for our ECR students, with great work from Anna Warrington and Dale Duncan being rewarded. An inspiring closing remark by Prof. Drew Evans left all attendees with the understanding that only through these academic and industrial collaborations, driven by real-world applications, will such important research have a positive impact in our society. The participants then went for a guided tour through a perfect, material example of this – the new BatTRI-Hub world-class facilities, where upscaled battery manufacturing is taking place.