SEMINAR: Rechargeable Batteries with Beta Alumina as the Solid Electrolyte

Dr. Xiaochuan Lu, Senior Research Scientist, Electrochemical Materials and Systems Group, Energy & Environment Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA
When Mar 03, 2016
from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Where Sackett Hall, Room 200
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Sodium-sulfur (Na-S) battery is one of the most promising technologies for grid-scale energy storage applications because of the high theoretical energy density, high energy efficiency, low cost, and good cycle life. One of the major disadvantages for the Na-S battery is high operating temperatures (e.g., 300-350°C), which significantly increases battery manufacturing and maintenance costs, and causes safety concerns as well. However, at lower temperatures (e.g., 100-200°C), the Na-S battery faces a problem of poor sodium wettability on the surface of beta-alumina electrolyte, which leads to a high resistance at the electrode/electrolyte interface. Dr. Lu will present his lab’s recent progress to address the problem of poor wettability at the lower temperatures. In particular, he will discuss a novel alloying strategy that can dramatically improve the sodium wettability on the surface of the beta-alumina electrolyte, and present fundamental insight into the mechanism for the improvement. Inspired by the wetting behavior of the sodium alloys, Dr. Lu also proposed a novel potassium-sulfur (K-S) battery with a K+-conducting beta-alumina as the electrolyte and a pure potassium metal as the anode material. The excellent wetting performance of pure potassium metal on the beta-alumina surface allows the K-S battery to be operated at much lower temperatures compared to the traditional Na-S battery. The K-S battery with high performance, low cost, and good safety is ideal for grid-scale applications.

Speaker's Biography

Dr. Lu is a Senior Research Scientist in the Electrochemical Materials and Systems Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering at Tennessee Technological University. He has over twelve years of experience in all kinds of energy materials for fuel cell and battery applications. His current research interests include Na batteries, Li-ion batteries, redox flow batteries, and solid-state electrolytes (e.g., beta-alumina, garnet-type conductors, etc.). Dr. Lu has published more than 40 papers in peer reviewed professional journals, 2 book chapters, and 10 U.S. patents (including pending). He has been an advisor and guest editor of the Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (JOM) since 2014. He was a co-organizer of 2014 ECS spring meeting and 2012 MRS spring meeting, and a session chair of MS&T 2011 and MS&T 2012. He received several awards from PNNL.