The winning paper of the 2022 Charles Hatchett Award demonstrates how niobium can contribute to the potential development of better performing cathode-materials in next-generation lithium-ion batteries.
For the best paper on the science and technology of niobium-based materials, the 2022 Charles Hatchett winners are Fengxia Xin, Hui Zhou, Yanxu Zong, Mateusz Zuba, Yan Chen, Natasha A. Chernova, Jianming Bai, Ben Pei, Anshika Goel, Jatinkumar Rana, Feng Wang, Ke An, Louis F. J. Piper, Guangwen Zhou, and M. Stanley Whittingham, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019, for their paper:'What is the Role of Nb in Nickel-Rich Layered Oxide Cathodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries?'
ACS Energy Lett. 2021, 6, 1377-1382
Transport is one of the biggest emitters of CO2 and responsible for air pollution in urban areas around the world. Developing the next generation of lithium-ion batteries is a critical step as we shift towards decarbonizing transport and increasing the adoption of zero-emission electric vehicles. Advances in electric vehicle battery technology are required to meet the demands of longer ranges, faster charging, cost-competitiveness, and increased safety.
The research focuses on a specific type of nickel-rich layered metal oxide materials, which have been identified as one of the most promising cathodes for next-generation lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. The paper presents experimental work on niobium coating and substitution to enhance the performance of the cathode material LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1O2 (NMC811). A niobium coating reduced the potential losses of capacity currently experienced during the first cycle (10% capacity loss) and improved rate capability. Niobium substitution stabilized the material enabling longer cycling stability, and therefore the retained capacity and lifespan of the cathode. The paper also concludes by explaining the mechanisms and potential for manufacturing scaleup. The search for the Charles Hatchett Award winner is wide ranging and covers niobium alloys, oxides and other compounds and their applications in oil and gas, aerospace, automotive, construction, biomedical, electronics, energy generation and storage and chemical applications including catalysts and glass products. Each has the potential for global impact and competition for the award is strong with hundreds of papers being reviewed in the process.
The selection process of the Charles Hatchett Award is concerned with technical excellence and originality, but also takes account of the social, economic and environmental advantages of any proposed application of niobium. The paper was praised by the international panel of judges for its potential to make a significant technological impact on other important industrial sectors such as secondary batteries and aerospace industries. The panel also felt that the paper was an exemplar of high-caliber research published in a quality journal.The annual Award, now in its 44th year, is sponsored by CBMM with administrative support from Beta Technology. The lead author, Nobel Laureate M. Stanley Whittingham (Binghamton University) will be presented with the Charles Hatchett medal at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) 2022 Premier Awards Dinner, to be held in London on 8th December.