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Institute of New Energy Material Chemistry
Released at 22:00, 06-Dec-2015         Viewed 955 times


As a well-known research centre for energy storage and conversion, the Institute of New Energy Material Chemistry (INEMC) was established in 1992, initiating studies on hydrogen storage alloys and developing the first prototype Ni-MH battery in China. Now investigations have been extended to advanced batteries, supercapacitors and solar cells, etc. The institute is in the School of Materials Science and Engineering, and is located at the university’s Jinnan Campus in the southeastern suburb of Tianjin.

Through lasting and dedicating efforts on advanced materials for rechargeable batteries, INEMC has achieved many honors and awards from the government and business community. Now this institute has 11 faculty members and over 60 graduate students, and is an important part of School of Materials Science and Engineering.

Research Foci

Multil-Electron Rechargeable Batteries: developing light-weight materials with multi-electron reactions to fabricate batteries with high energy density, such as Li-S batteries and Al ion batteries. Sulfur composite cathodes, protected Li anodes and binary-salt electrolytes are explored for Li-S batteries. Aqueous aluminum ion batteries are also developed in terms of safety and cost.

Li-Air Batteries: Rechargeable Li-air batteries have high energy density comparable to gasoline. However, they are hard to operate in air due to the influence of moisture and CO2. However, it would be very amazing if greenhouse gas CO2 was utilized for energy storage. Therefore, it is attractive to clarify the effects of CO2 on Li-O2 batteries and fabricate Li-CO2 batteries.

Solar Cells and Solar Rechargeable Batteries: developing low-cost and high-performance counter electrodes such as non-noble metals and its compounds to replace Pt for dye-sensitized solar cells. Solid state perovskite solar cells with high efficiency are fabricated on basis of interface and material design. By combining solar cells and rechargeable batteries, solar rechargeable batteries are developed to realize in situ solar-to-electric conversion and storage.

Ultra-Batteries: developing ultra-batteries with both advantages of high energy and power density from Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors, respectively. The active materials for ultra-batteries can be soluble substances with redox reactions fixed in micropores as adsorbed ions to avoid shuttle effect and capacity loss during long charge/discharge cycling. Also, advanced carbon functional materials and nanoscale transition metal oxides with enhanced exterior surface charge storage are developed for Li ion capacitors.

Computational Simulation and Materials Design: Developing batteries only through experiments is both money- and time-consuming. Computational simulations offer powerful tools to investigate energy storage materials and electrode processes, predict the intrinsic properties, and assist in experimental characterization and rationalization.


Recent Projects

Multil-Electron Rechargeable Batteries: Sulfur-based composites fabricated with microporous/mesoporous carbon or further modified with conductive polymers, present enhanced cyclic stability as cathodes for Li-S batteries. LiFSI and LiTFSI are combined to form a binary-salt electrolyte with higher ionic conductivity and lower viscosity for Li-S batteries to obtain high capacity and stable cyclic performance.

Li-Air Batteries: Extensive investigations are performed to explore the electrocatalytic mechanisms about the reduction and evolution reactions of O2 and CO2, design composite catalysts based on carbon materials and transition metal or transition metal oxide nanoparticles, improve the electrochemical reversibility and cyclic stability of Li-O2 batteries, clarify the effects of CO2 on the cell reactions, and overcome the key barriers in the jump from Li-O2 batteries to Li-air batteries.

Solar Cells and Solar Rechargeable Batteries: Transition metal nitrides and sulfides show highly Pt-like electrocatalytic activity and comparable electrochemical performance as counter electrodes in a dye-sensitized solar cell. Some transparent low-cost electrodes are also developed. Based on the photo-regeneration of two pairs of redox couples, the fabricated solar rechargeable battery demonstrates a photo-charge at light illumination and a stable electrochemical discharge in the dark.

Ultra-Batteries: Various ultra-batteries are developed by using a traditional Li-ion battery configuration with soluble iodine and lithium bromine salt as cathodes. Compared with commercial Li-ion batteries, they have higher power density. Also, several configurations are fabricated for Li ion capacitors with prelithiated graphene or transition metal oxide/C composite anodes and functional carbon cathodes.

Computational Simulation and Materials Design: First-principles computations, molecular dynamics (MD) and Monte Carlo simulations are combined to disclose the physical and chemical properties of new energy materials, understand electrode/electrolyte interfaces and electrochemical processes, optimize electrolytes including organic electrolytes and room temperature ionic liquids, and design new energy storage materials and devices.