PhD: Bifunctional Air Electrodes for Rechargeable Metal-Air Batteries


Dr Richard Wills,

Metal-air batteries are a promising post lithium-ion technology and hold the greatest promise for future energy application due to their outstanding specific capacity. However, metal-air technologies suffer from significant problems, which need to be solved prior to their commercialization. A key issue is the stability of current air electrodes. Reversible air electrodes that participate in both the reduction and evolution of oxygen are essential for the development of electrically rechargeable metal–air batteries.

Heteropolyacids (HPAs) are a group of chemicals that have shown promising results as catalysts in a variety of applications. Recent work at the University of Southampton has demonstrated that bifunctional air electrodes utilising HPAs and Ni powder catalyst mixtures can be manufactured. Furthermore, the novel catalyst immobilisation has been successfully tested in functional battery environments. Key advantages of these electrodes include stability to oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) operating potentials, ability to utilise conventional fuel cell electrode manufacturing techniques and a non-precious metal catalyst. This project focuses on the elucidation of the reaction mechanism for ORR and OER and optimization of the air electrode architecture.

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