Local engineers say they are closer to developing a more sustainable, rechargeable ‘organic’ battery. 

Next-generation rechargeable battery technologies are using more environmentally friendly materials than current metal-based batteries.

‘Organic radical batteries’ (ORBs) can be made from sustainable organic compounds to reduce reliance on lithium and cobalt mining. These rare materials are usually not recycled in modern batteries and end up in rubbish.

Researchers at Flinders University with Chinese collaborators have used a catalysis strategy to produce two-electron storage in ORBs – a big advance in improving their storage capability.

The ORBs have not yet taken over electronics and other small device markets largely because of their lower capacity when compared to commercialised lithium-ion batteries.

Previous research has found only one electron can be reversibly stored in the materials, which only provides the battery with a maximum capacity of 110 mAh/g.

“Catalysis has been widely used in lithium-based batteries such as lithium-oxygen batteries and lithium-sulphur batteries to improve their energy and power performance,” says senior lecturer in chemistry Dr Zhongfan Jia, a research leader at Flinders University’s Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

The research team firstly applied this strategy to ORBs and successfully achieved reversible two-electron storage in a polymer-based ORB.

Dr Jia’s research team has recently reported all-organic polymer battery with a cell voltage of 2.8 V, which is one of the highest voltages in organic batteries. Now, this work further doubles the energy storage capability.

“This battery can deliver a capacity of 175 mAh/g, which is comparable to the commercialised lithium-ion battery, making a step closer to the practical use of ORBs,” Dr Jia says. 

“Our next goal is to combine these advances to develop organic batteries that can be implemented in consumer electronics.”

The study is accessible here.