Yan Wang, William Smith Foundation Dean’s Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, is principal investigator on a new six-month, $30,000 award Aspen Aerogels Inc. This project is focused on helping the company develop advanced battery electrodes, potentially leading to high-energy lithium-ion batteries. This research could change the way the battery industry fabricates electrodes, leading to longer-lasting batteries for smartphones, tablets, and other smart devices.
The project, which involves the setup, testing, and evaluation of carbon aerogels for use as the anodes and cathodes in lithium-ion battery design, is split into several tasks. The first step is to set up electrochemical equipment to test the material properties of carbon aerogels and measure the electrochemistry of 2,032 coin cells at Aspen Aerogels.
Next, the use of carbon aerogels in cathode architectures for lithium-ion battery systems will be explored. Compared to conventional electrode fabrication, carbon aerogels could increase energy density and lower costs. Further research will be conducted into the use of carbon aerogels as anodes in lithium-ion batteries by preparing carbon in monolithic sheets and exploring whether the electrolyte-carbon aerogel interface is resistant to dendrite growth. After completing these tasks, silicon-containing carbon aerogel monoliths will also be evaluated for use as an anode in a lithium-ion battery system, as will dense monolithic carbon aerogel materials. One WPI PhD student will work on the project.