THE STUDY OF CARBON MATERIALS FOR ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEMS: FROM SYNTHESIS TO STRUCTURE
Worldwide concern on fossil fuels depletion and adverse impact on environment pushed researchers to find an alternative energy source. Among various potential systems, electrochemical energy storage devices have attracted significant attraction due to short charge/discharge time, easy relocation, and relatively cheap cost compared to large storage systems. Much research has been reported to suggest a material for electrochemical storage systems. Carbon is a key part of human life in terms of energy source, building materials, daily clothing and foods. The extraordinary characteristics of carbon materials, including good conductivity, good structure stability, relatively low cost, and sustainability, draw interest to carbon application in energy storage systems.
The introduction of lithium ion batteries (LIB), using graphite as an anode material, fulfilled the need of alternative energy source and elevated the technologies into next level high-performance applications such as portable devices. While the technology advancement in high performance electronics fosters the development of advanced lithium ion batteries, the introduction of electric vehicles and large intermittent systems seeks energy storage devices with high capacity, sustainability, and low cost. In this thesis, the impact of the characteristics of carbon material on energy storage system performance is studied. The work presented in this thesis not only suggests a cost-effective carbon synthesis for advanced LIB, but also addresses how the carbon structure impact and resolves the systematic issue associated with next generation energy storage systems.
Chapter 3 describes a facile, one-step, solvent-free ‘dry autoclaving’ synthesis method utilizing coffee oil as the carbon precursor to obtain micrometer diameter spheroidal carbon particles for lithium ion battery anodes. The spheroidal morphology resulted from the evaporation of liquid oil into a liquid/gas phase interphase at elevated temperature (700 oC), followed by solid/gas sublimation interactions during cooling (below 350 oC) in a closed autoclave. A mechanism of spheroidal carbon formation is proposed considering the precursor’s composition and chemical interactions during autoclaving. The prepared carbon from dry autoclave has shown successful LIB performance and structure stability after 250 cycles.
Chapter 4 illustrates the temperature effect on the structure of biomass derived carbon. In this study, due to its abundance and high porosity, pistachio shells were selected as the primary carbon source and carbonized at a range from 700 to 1500 °C. The temperature effect on carbon structure was analyzed by XRD, Raman, BET, and electron microscopy. To propose an advanced lithium ion battery, pistachio shell-derived carbon was applied as an anode material for a sodium ion battery (SIB). The correlation of carbon structure and SIB electrochemical performance is presented. Pistachio shell carbonized at 1000 °C resulted in highly amorphous structure with specific surface area (760.9 m2/g) and stable cycle performance (225 mAh g-1 at 10 mA g-1). With support from Raman, XRD, and BET, the storage mechanism has been studied as well.
Chapter 5 describes the impact of carbon structure on resolving the polysulfide shuttling effect in lithium sulfur (Li-S) batteries. Lithium sulfur batteries have received tremendous attention due to its high theoretical capacity (1672 mAh g-1), sulfur abundance, and low cost. However, main systemic issues, associated with polysulfide shuttling and low Coulombic efficiency, hinder the practical use of sulfur electrodes in commercial batteries. The work in this thesis demonstrated an effective strategy of decorating nano-MnO2 (less than 10 wt. %) onto a sulfur reservoir in order to further capture the out-diffused polysulfides via chemical interaction, and thereby improve the electrochemical performance of sulfur electrodes without increasing the mass burden of the total battery configuration. Pistachio shell-derived sustainable carbon (PC) was employed as an effective sulfur container due to its structural characteristics (interconnected macro channels and micropores). With the aids of the structural benefits of PC scaffold and the uniform decoration of nano-MnO2, the polysulfide shuttling effect was significantly suppressed and cycling performance of a sulfur cathode was dramatically improved over 250 cycles.This thesis offers a new prospect in the study of carbon materials applications in various energy storage systems. This concept can be further extended to other applications, such as lithium metal batteries. The intercalation property of carbon structure can reduce the local current density, reducing the risk of lithium dendrite growth, which is the most critical issue of lithium metal battery.