Energy & Energetic Materials
Lithium compounds and energetic materials for lithium-ion batteries
Lithium compounds and energetic materials from abcr are used in modern technologies designed for the future. Whether batteries or fuel cells – our catalogue contains “gute Chemie” for sustainable applications.
Energy from chemical products is stored and also released in many everyday processes. As electrochemical storage systems for electrical energy, batteries have become an indispensable part of our lives. In particular modern, mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and similar would be inconceivable without small, yet powerful energy storage solutions. Rechargeable batteries based on lithium ions are primarily used for this. These are distinguished by very high specific energy in comparison to other types of rechargeable battery.
The era of the lithium-ion battery has only just begun. Climate change is one of the most profound challenges confronting our planet and society. The development and production of highly-efficient rechargeable batteries is therefore gaining increasing importance – not only for electric cars but also solar batteries and battery storage power stations promising a sustainable future.
Lithium-ion battery is an umbrella term for rechargeable secondary batteries based on lithium compounds in all phases of the electrochemical cell. Both the anode and cathode as well as the electrolyte contain lithium ions, which can move freely through the electrolytes back and forth between the electrodes as charge carriers within the battery cell. The mobility of the lithium ions is crucial here in order to equalise the external electron flow during charging and discharging. To prevent the electrons from migrating between the electrodes within the cell, a dividing membrane separates the anode and cathode from one another. This allows the lithium ions to pass through, but is impermeable for electrons and thus prevents a short circuit.
The anode – which consists of an intercalation compound comprising graphite and lithium ions – releases electrons during discharge. These flow via the external electric circuit to the cathode, which comprises a transition metal compound – typically lithium cobalt(III) oxide or another cobalt, nickel or manganese compound. This receives the electrons from the external electric circuit.
To equalise the charge, an identical number of lithium cations move through the electrolyte to the cathode at the same time. The electrolyte can typically comprise lithium tetrafluoroborate or lithium bis-(oxalato)borate. As the lithium ions have a greater affinity to the material of the cathode than to the anode, energy is released while lithium ions flow from the anode to the cathode. An electric voltage is applied externally during charging, with the result that a surplus of electrons arises at the anode, thereby drawing electrons away from the cathode. As a result, the lithium cations migrate in turn from the cathode to the anode so as to equalise the charge. There they become embedded in the intercalation compound.
Lithium-ion batteries can be made up of many different combinations of lithium compounds. Depending on the material chosen, the properties exhibited by different types of rechargeable battery can consequently vary enormously. The abcr product range includes a large selection of lithium compounds and energetic materials. Whether for use as an electrolyte or for electrodes, you are always sure to find the right “gute Chemie” with us.
abcr special chemicals for future technologies like fuel cells
As efficient energy converters, fuel cells are also regarded as key technologies in the transformation towards green energy and the accompanying conversion to environmentally-friendly energy sources. In a process referred to as “cold combustion”, a fuel (e.g. hydrogen, methanol, butane) reacts with an oxidising agent (like oxygen). The resultant chemical reaction energy is converted into both thermal as well as electrical energy. As with batteries, fuel cells involve a galvanic cell – as a spontaneous conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy occurs here. Although a fuel cell is not an energy store but instead a converter, its structure and function are comparable to a battery. This is because the fuel cell also consists of two electrodes (anode and cathode), which are separated by an electrolyte. Either liquid electrolytes (e.g. alkalis, acids or also alkali carbonate melts) or solid electrolytes (e.g. ceramics or membranes) are used in fuel cells, depending on the type. As – irrespective of the material used – the electrolyte is permeable for ions but not for electrons, it ensures good charge conduction within the fuel cell. Both the anode and cathode are coated with a catalyst (for instance platinum, palladium or nickel). Fuels are oxidised at the anode, a voltage now resulting between the anode and cathode. The protons move through the ion-permeable electrolyte to the cathode, where an electron deficiency consequently results. As the electrons cannot pass the electrolyte, they flow through the external electric circuit to the cathode. There they react with the protons and oxygen to form water.
Although – depending on the type of fuel cell – different fuels are used, the term “fuel cell” usually refers to a hydrogen-oxygen cell in popular usage. The development of this technology follows the vision of environmentally-friendly and independent supply. Modern fuel cells already work very effectively and ensure a high degree of efficiency. They transform natural gas into hydrogen and utilise this to generate energy. The hydrogen is produced by a reformer here, this then reacting with supplied atmospheric oxygen in a reverse electrolysis to form water, electricity and heat. This innovative technology offers a wide range of potential applications. Its use for power and heat supply in buildings as well as for mobility of the future is promising. Fuel cells have already become established in the leisure sector, for example in the power supply for camper vans and motorhomes.
In the area of fuel cells too, our abcr online shop includes an extensive range of materials for your electrodes and electrolytes. This allows us to provide you with high-quality precious metals such as platinum and palladium for your electrode coatings. Together with our cooperation partner H. C. Starck/ Höganäs, we also offer oxidic ceramics for solid electrolytes as well as alkalis, acids and alkali carbonates for your liquid electrolytes.
Energetic materials release large amounts of energy within a short time through chemical conversion. Besides applications in propulsion technology (e.g. hydrazine as rocket fuel) and as explosives, they are also necessary for micromechanical systems. One of their best known applications guarantees the daily safety of countless car drivers – namely the functionality of an airbag, which inflates when activated through the use of a small amount of explosive.