Energy generation using renewables such as wind and solar technologies are an attractive alternative to polluting fossil fuels. However, use of these renewable energy technologies for generation of electricity is unreliable due to uncertain meteorological conditions, making it difficult to match energy supply with demand. Large-scale electrochemical energy storage devices (e.g. rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors) with high capacitance and lifetime cycling stability are needed to achieve more secure sustainable energy systems. To this end, I propose to use novel metal-organic framework (MOF) materials to replace existing nonporous or ill-defined templates for the electrode materials (e.g. pure metal oxides such as Fe2O3 and CuO) currently used in commercial lithium batteries.
The innovative approach described here is to encapsulate metal oxide nanomaterials in my hierarchical porous MOF structures to produce novel high capacity electrode materials for electrochemical energy storage. In this proposed research, the void space in MOF architectures synthesised via acid etching and scCO2 will be optimised to enhance ion transport kinetics, thus improving the specific capacity of the electrode matrix. Such hierarchical porous structures have been shown in previous studies to buffer unwanted volume expansion of metal oxides during the charge-discharge process. The highly crystalline nature of the MOFs is also expected to improve the structural stability of the anode materials upon cycling. This approach might introduce to the global renewable energy market a new electrochemical energy storage device with high capacitance, long cycling life, low cost and ease of fabrication.