Exploring Potassium-ion Batteries

PI: Yet-Ming Chiang, Department of Material Science and Engineering, MIT
PI: Artem Abakumov, Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage, Skoltech

The main goal of this project is to explore a concept of K-ion battery as a viable alternative of the matured Li-ion technology of electrochemical energy storage. The Li-ion batteries occupy a market niche of portable electronics; they are also envisaged as a major component of the energy storage systems for automotive and energy grid applications. The expected explosive growth of the battery production and Li consumption puts at forefront a problem of finding commercially more attractive alternatives mitigating the impact of relatively high Li cost and limited availability. In this context, the abundance, broad geographical distribution and low cost of K provide a great advantage for the emerging rechargeable batteries based on a reversible electrochemical K (de)intercalation. Compared to the Li-ion and even to Na-ion batteries, the development of the K-ion technology is at the very beginning and demands for fundamental and applied research on all battery components and their compatibilities, with the aim of minimizing the intrinsic drawbacks of the K/K+ redox pair (higher atomic weight and ionic radius of K+, danger of metallic K anode etc.) and maximizing its advantages (attractive electrode potential, fast ionic transport through electrolyte and in the solids, large variety of potential intercalation hosts and compatibility with carbon-based anodes). The electrode materials for the K-ion batteries are the primary target for this project. The concise list of objectives embraces:
- employing a polyanion cathode – graphitic anode cell for fundamental understanding of the ionic transport in the electrodes and electrolyte, cyclability, solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) formation to be used as an input for further design of advanced electrodes;
- semi-empirical screening, synthesis and electrochemical testing of novel materials for reversible K intercalation from the cathode and anode sides;
- unraveling of the behavior of the graphitic anode upon K-ion intercalation and developing pathways towards mitigating the negative impact of the K-intercalation;
- developing the battery routes, constructing prototypes and estimating the functional parameters relevant to the prospective commercialization.

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