Silicon, one of the most abundant materials in the earth’s crust, has been identified as having great potential to increase the amount of energy that can be stored in batteries for portable devices and electric vehicles. A research project called ‘SAND’ led by Dr Hugh Geaney, Bernal Institute, UL has been awarded a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) starting research grant of 425,000 to develop new silicon active materials for better performing lithium-ion batteries.

Dr Geaney explains: “Battery technology is currently the greatest impediment to the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). This project seeks to address this issue by developing materials that can deliver higher storage capacities, ultimately leading to longer range EVs.”

“Current batteries use carbon that can store significantly less energy than silicon for a given weight. As a result, silicon has great potential to increase the amount of energy that can be stored in batteries. We are focusing on revealing how these silicon-based materials behave while in the battery at the scale of nanometers (1 billionth of a meter). Developing a better understanding of the changes that occur in the material during battery operation will lead to longer life batteries with improved performance.”

The SAND project will use state of the art battery testing and microscopy facilities within the Bernal Institute at the University of Limerick.

Dr Geaney is part of Si-DRIVE, the EU funded project coordinated by UL which is developing prototype silicon-based anodes for electric vehicle applications. Dr Hugh Geaney is a native of Kildimo, County Limerick. He has a degree in Industrial Chemistry and PhD in Chemistry, both from the University of Limerick and is based in the Bernal Institute, UL.

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