Low cost biomass-derived carbons cathodes in Li-S batteries

Magda Titirici

Queen Mary University of London

Abstract: The exploration of natural resources as sustainable precursors affords a family of green materials. Exploring highly abundant and available biowaste precursors remaining from food processing throughout a scalable and cost-effective material synthesis path is highly important especially for new materials discovery in emerging energy storage technologies such as lithium–sulphur (Li–S) batteries. Herein, we have produced a series of carbon materials with hierarchical micro-/mesopores from a very cheap and abundant lignocellulosic bio-waste, namely rice husk. The carbonisation of the lignocellulosic fraction leads to the formation of micropores while the removal of the silica present naturally in the rice husk composition allows the formation of mesopores. We can easily tune the ratio of micropores to mesopores by simply tuning the synthesis conditions in order to achieve an optimal performance in Li–S batteries after sulphur infiltration into the resulting porous carbons. Our optimal cathode scaffold for Li–S batteries exhibited a high capacity of 1032 mA h g−1 at a current density of 0.1 C. An ultralow decay rate of 0.055% per cycle was achieved. The appearance of abundant micropores with a higher surface area renders a high initial capacity of sulphur to polysulphides; however, the sufficient mesopore volume is more vital for a lower cyclic decay, which is prerequisite for the generation of solid products and smooth ion diffusion. This work, besides reporting on an efficient method to produce efficient electrode materials from waste to be used in energy storage technologies also provides fresh insights into the required structural features to allow effective cathode materials for high-performance Li–S batteries.

Biography: Magda Titirici graduated from University of Bucharest in 2000 with a BSc (Diploma) in Chemistry. She obtained her PhD at the University of Dortmund, Germany in 2005. Between 2006–2012 she led the group ‘‘Sustainable Carbon Materials’’ at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, Germany where she also did her ‘‘Habilitation. In 2013 Magda became an Associate Professor in Materials Science at Queen Mary University of London. She was promoted to a full Professorship in Sustainable Materials Chemistry in 2014. In 2015 she become the Director of Research for the Centre for Functional Nanomaterials and since 2016 she is the Chair Professor of the Materials Division within the School of Engineering and Materials Science at Queen Mary University of London.

Magda is the author of around highly cited 130 publications in the field of sustainable materials for various renewable energy, several book chapters and one edited book. She is in the editorial board of ChemSusChem (Wiley) and ChemPlusChem (Wiley) and an associate editor for J. Mater. Chem. A (RSC).

Magda has been awarded the Rosenhain Medal and Price from the Institute of Materials and Mines in London in recognition of distinguished achievements in materials science under the age of 40 in 2016, she is the USERN laureate in physical sciences 2017 as well as the recipient of an honoray PhD from University of Stockholm in 2017.