Innovative study reveals lithium-ion batteries’ potential for hydrogen production
by Riko Seibo
Nagoya, Japan (SPX) Jan 29, 2024
In a groundbreaking development for both the battery and sustainable energy industries, a team of researchers from Meijo University has unveiled a novel approach to hydrogen storage and production using lithium-ion batteries.
Published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy on October 29, 2023, this study, led by Professor Bun Tsuchiya from the Department of General Education of the Faculty of Science and Technology, delves into the potential of lithium-cobalt oxides (LiCoO2) – a common cathode material in lithium-ion batteries – in facilitating hydrogen production through water splitting at room temperature.
Lithium-ion batteries, a cornerstone of modern rechargeable battery technology, owe much of their capacity and performance attributes to the characteristics of their cathode materials, such as LiCoO2. However, one significant challenge in their long-term performance has been the degradation caused by hydrogen buildup through water splitting. Addressing this issue, the study by Prof. Tsuchiya’s team marks a significant step towards not only enhancing battery efficiency but also repurposing this degradation phenomenon for environmental benefit.
Prof. Tsuchiya explains the motivation behind this research, stating, “My motivation is to achieve the production of hydrogen (H2) through water (H2O) splitting at room temperature using certain oxide ceramic materials.” Traditional hydrogen production methods involve high temperatures, approximately 2000 K, making them less energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. This study’s focus on room-temperature processes presents a fresher, more sustainable approach to hydrogen production.
The research team employed a series of sophisticated analytical techniques, including weight gain and elastic recoil detection methods, to investigate hydrogen uptake and loss in LiCoO2 cathodes. Their findings revealed an increase in hydrogen concentration after immersing the material in water for a mere two minutes, a significant discovery given the current hydrogen production complexities.
Furthermore, gas chromatography was utilized to analyze hydrogen gas release, determining that dissociation occurred below 523 K. These insights were complemented by density functional theory calculations, which suggested that hydrogen atoms preferentially occupy lithium sites within the LiCoO2 crystal structure.
These results indicate that LiCoO2, beyond its established role in energy storage, could play a significant part in storing hydrogen at room temperature through water splitting, thereby producing hydrogen gas. Prof. Tsuchiya envisions a future hydrogen-based society, stating, “If it becomes possible to make H2 from the inexhaustible H2O on earth with low energy input, I think that we can potentially establish a hydrogen-based society in the future.”