Storage has become the new frontier in advancing the baseload capacity of renewable energy.
Battery storage is at the forefront of this push, with large-scale projects proliferating in a bid to meet the high-demand and long-term energy needs of industry and society.
Our Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources (IMER) is leading the charge to boost storage capacity by facilitating several industry-connected initiatives that promise great economic benefits.
Chief among these is value adding to the nation’s vast stores of lithium, cobalt and graphite, all critical materials in modern batteries.
We’re fortunate in Australia to have an estimated 60 per cent of the world’s lithium. With potentially every car and home in the world requiring a battery in future, many large companies want to take advantage of that.
Several international manufacturers have either already established a presence in Australia or have indicated they will soon do so.
Our researchers are fostering large scale, multi-disciplinary projects, programs and partnerships to leverage this opportunity to transfer technology to industry.
One team is coordinating development of a new generation of batteries that could be the next step forward after lithium-ion batteries.
They are very small, with a relatively low capital cost, enabling the material mix to be readily changed.
Another team is working with defence industries to integrate sensing and analytics for real-time performance monitoring of the lead batteries used in Australia’s current submarine fleet.
Developing technology for repurposing and recycling vehicle batteries is a project vital to solving the looming problem of waste disposal in the growing electric vehicle industry.
Similarly important is exploring opportunities for by-product recovery of various energy-technology related critical metals such as cobalt, indium and germanium.
We’re also investigating other materials-based methods of reducing the cost of batteries. Our chemical engineering researchers are working on using carbon nanotubes and graphene to increase lithium’s interfacial area and electrochemical properties.
This work is attracting much global interest.
Professor Graham Nathan
Director Centre for Energy Technology
School of Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences