02 сентября 2014 17:53

Kazakh researcher develops super large-capacity battery


Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov. Photo courtesy of batterykazakhstan.com Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov. Photo courtesy of batterykazakhstan.com

Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov, a professor at Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev University, has developed a lithium-sulfur battery that is 10-fold the capacity of a regular battery, Tengrinews reports.

Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov, a professor at Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev University, has developed a lithium-sulfur battery that is 10-fold the capacity of a regular battery, Tengrinews reports.

Nazarbayev University launched a technological park in mid July. Its goal is to provide research space to Kazakhstani inventors with creative and promising ideas and help them commercialize their inventions. Minister of Education and Science Aslan Sarinzhipov attended the opening ceremony.

One of the projects that had qualified for the research space at the new Technopark, was presented at the ceremony.

A team of Kazakhstani researchers led by Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov developed a battery that can work 10 times longer than all the other similar batteries.

“Lithium-sulfur battery was invented back in the 1960s. But it was not promoted well and people forgot about it. Nowadays there is a least one group of scientists in every university of the world that is working on this type of batteries,” the Kazakh researcher said.

“Batteries are going to be the next ‘arms race’,” the Minister agreed.

“Theoretical capacity of lithium-ion batteries that are now used in cell phones makes 150 milliamp-hours per gram, whereas that of lithium-sulfur batteries is 1670 milliamp-hours per gram. We have already achieved this capacity – developed it, obtained a patent, reported on it and published our findings,” Dr. Bakenov said.

Dr. Bakenov explained that the cathode that was used in the battery was what drove the breakthrough. “It all comes from the cathode,” he said, but added that there still was “a safety problem” that the team was dealing with.

“Does it mean that this battery can get iPhones to work ten times longer?” the Minister asked while visiting the Technopark’s laboratories.

"If we can get our sulfur-based battery to work, then cars will be able to drive 10 times longer," Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov told the Minister adding that he was planning to focus on adapting the new battery and marketing it as a durable battery for cars.

"Can you make a battery for an iPhone?” the Minister asked again.

“Not yet. We not have the right equipment for that,” Dr. Bakenov said.

"Or, you could sell it to Apple, because small battery is one of iPhone’s big problems. (…) If the battery can work 10 times longer, iPhone can work for 10 days without recharging,” Minister Sarinzhipov said, adding that since Dr. Bakenov’s development was an “absolute innovation” it could “bring a lot of money if marketed correctly.” Dr. Bakenov agreed, but maintained that he planned to use the new battery for car, not for phones.

According to the Technopark’s director Diyaz Baiseitov, several companies have already expressed interest in purchasing the new batteries when they are ready. These were the companies that are part of Kazakhstan's state-run Samruk-Kazyna National Wealth Fund.

"These batteries are eco-friendly, because they are based on an aqueous electrolyte. Besides they have a very large charging cycle, a much larger one that in all the existing batteries, be they alkaline batteries or lead-acid batteries. And they are cheaper to produce. All these factors attract large consumers," Diyaz Baiseitov said.

“Take Samruk-Energo for instance, its our giant that is dealing with renewable energy (in Kazkahstan). Storage of generated renewable energy is a big problem now. The energy is generated while the sun is shining during the day, or while the wind is blowing, but after that, at night, a good battery has to come in. Than is why a system for accumulation of electricity for electromotives, renewable energy generating devices and large generating facilities is highly called for,” he said.

Before returning to his home Kazakhstan in 2011 Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov used to work on various research projects in Japan and Canada for almost 10 years.

Dr. Bakenov holds the 2010 Award of Ceramic Society of Japan for series of work on ceramics for energy storage application. He is a active member of the Electrochemical Society (ECS USA), the Electrochemical Society of Japan (ECS-J) and American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

He is now working on advanced techniques for high energy density materials for renewable energy storage, development of advanced rechargeable batteries for energy storage for grid connection with renewable energy sources, development of innovative rechargeable aqueous lithium-ion battery for large scale energy storage, high energy density ecologically-friendly Batteries for grid connection of renewable sources and electric vehicles, and on novel collagen and hydroxyapatite scaffolds for the repair of age related bone and cartilage defects.

"We contacted Dr. Bakenov while he was working abroad and invited him to come back to Kazakhstan and work here. We have created all the conditions,” Minister Aslan Sarinzhipov said.

According to the Nazarbayev University, the Technopark occupies the area of over 2000 square meters and is open not only for professors and students, but for everyone who can offer a promising innovative research project.

By Tatyana Kuzmina

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