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Powerful batteries for renewable energy being developed at Nazarbayev University 15 сентября 2014, 19:47

The School of Engineering at Nazarbayev University is developing powerful batteries for renewable energy.
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Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov of the School of Engineering at NU. Photo © Altynay Zhumzhumina Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov of the School of Engineering at NU. Photo © Altynay Zhumzhumina

The School of Engineering at Nazarbayev University has been developing powerful batteries for renewable energy, Tengrinews reports citing Dr. Zhumabay Bakenov.

“We are working on batteries for different uses: for accumulator vehicle and electric appliances. But we mainly focus on batteries for renewable energy that required a system for storage of solar and wind energy," Dr. Bakenov said.

"There are lithium-sulfur batteries and lithium ion batteries. The first type of batteries has high energy density, meaning it works for a very long time. Theoretically speaking, it could work 10 times longer than any available batteries. Lithium ion batteries are safe and environmentally friendly. Those batteries do not contain heavy metals and aggressive solvents and will not combust,” Dr. Bakenov told the journalists at the sidelines of the 2nd International Scientific Research Seminar.

The seminar gathered researches from Japan, South Korea, Germany, Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan at the Nazarbayev University in Astana.

The lithium-sulfur batteries are being developed for the use in electric appliances, electric transportation and renewable energy. While the lithium ion batteries development is focused specifically on renewable energy for large storage systems, he said.

The lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. The electrolyte which allows for ionic movement, and the two electrodes are the consistent components of a lithium-ion cell.

The lithium-ion battery are common in consumer electronics. They are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries for portable electronics, with a high energy density, no memory effect, and only a slow loss of charge when not in use. 

Lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous under some conditions and can pose a safety hazard since they contain, unlike other rechargeable batteries, a flammable electrolyte and are also kept pressurised. 

Speaking about his invention on an earlier occasion Dr. Bakenov said that the cathode that was used in his battery was what drove the breakthrough. “It all comes down to the cathode,” he said, but added that there still was “a safety problem” that the team was dealing with.

The lithium–sulfur battery is a rechargeable battery, notable for its high energy density. Lithium–sulfur batteries may succeed lithium-ion cells because of their higher energy density and reduced cost from the use of sulfur. Currently the best Li-S batteries offer energy densities on the order of 500 W·h/kg, significantly better than most lithium-ion batteries which are in the 150 to 200 range. Li-S batteries with up to 1,500 charge and discharge cycles have already been demonstrated, but their are not commercially available.

The Professor explained that the new battery's capacity was 10 times that of the available batteries only in theory, but in practice the scientists were planning to release 5-times-longer-working batteries, which is also a huge step forward.

The NU scientists plan to present a prototype in two years. "We are planning to be ready with the first type battery in one year and with the second time battery in two years. We are not sure about serial production yet. But we have already received a license. So we will be considering either selling the license or transferring (rights) to our development,” he said.

The project is funded by Nazarbayev University, the World Bank and the Ministry of Education of Kazakhstan.

“Lithium ion batteries that we have in our phones laptops are expensive, toxic and dangerous. You probably remember the incident with Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (The flights were canceled because of a battery problem). It happened because they used organic electrolytes and they caught fire. And we are developing batteries that will not have this shortcoming, because inside there will be nothing to inflame,” Dr. Bakenov said.

Nazarbayev University hopes that once the batteries are ready they will be produced and marketed in Kazakhstan. “We are working with KazAtomProm and also discussing this project with Samruk-Energo. There are companies like Astana Solar and Taldykorgan-based battery plant Kainar AKB. We hope to use their technologies to test our batteries and subsequently used the batteries in their equipment,” Dr. Bakenov said.

At the seminar, Kazakhstani researches presented their projects to foreign colleagues. “Nazarbayev University has really good laboratories. We want others to realize that we are not an inexperienced bunch, but full-fledged partners. This also gives an opportunity to exchange experience and show results of our research,” the Professor concluded. 

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.

Reporting by Altynay Zhumzhumina, writing by Gyuzel Kamalova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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