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ARCI innovates economical catalysts for metal-air battery

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The Union Ministry of Science & Technology has announced that the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) has developed cost-effective catalysts for metal-air battery which can reduce cost and increase the efficiency of metal-air batteries.

"A new non-precious metal-based bi-functional electrocatalyst (capable of catalyzing two different types of reactions) can decrease cost and increase the efficiency of metal-air batteries," said a statement issued by the ministry.

It said that with the rise in demand for different energy sources, globally efforts are being made to develop different kinds of energy devices, such as lithium-ion batteries, lead-acid batteries, redox flow batteries, lithium-air batteries, zinc-air batteries, sodium-ion batteries, fuel cells, and supercapacitors.

The International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous R&D centre of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has developed the cost-effective electrocatalyst by anchoring transition metal ions into the sulfur-doped carbon framework via carbonization of a polymer called sPEEK (sulphonated polyether ether ketone).

This catalyst synthesis method can also be used to recycle used ionomers (polymer composed of both neutral repeating units and ionized units).

The catalyst also leads to reduced voltage polarisation, facilitating higher energy efficiency and a stable charge-discharge characteristic.

The results obtained were equivalent to that of conventionally used noble metal-based catalysts with metal loading of 20 percent or higher.

The scientists have used an ion-exchange strategy that positions the metal ions in the carbon framework homogeneously, limits the particle size, and offers control on composition and size at a very low loading of transition metal.

Cost-effectiveness is thus accomplished by low loading of transition metal, high activity, and high cycling stability compared to many of the catalysts earlier reported.

Among them, zinc-air batteries have drawn substantial attention due to their low cost and high energy density. They are compact power sources for portable electronics and electric vehicles and energy storage devices to manage energy flow among renewable energy generators, such as wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, electric grids, and end-users. 

Author : Moulin Oza
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