UA Researcher Gets $750K Grant to Advance EV Battery Tech

UA Researcher Gets $750K Grant to Advance EV Battery Tech
A Tesla charging station in Las Vegas, Nevada (Shutterstock)

The University of Arkansas announced that mechanical engineering professor Xiangbo “Henry” Meng has received a $750,000 federal grant for research aimed at advancing rechargeable battery technology used in electric vehicles.

The money from the U.S. Department of Energy will support Meng's project to reconstruct a clean, anti-oxidative surface of high-capacity cathodes for lithium-ion batteries. By addressing performance problems linked to those cathodes, the research will improve the energy density, lifetime and efficiency of lithium-ion batteries and reduce their cost, the university said in a news release.

Meng said high nickel content makes the batteries cost-effective, but can degrade their performance and create safety issues. He said his research has found that sulfides, when used as a surface coating, can help address those problems. 

Preliminary studies demonstrated that sulfide coatings improved electrode stability and consumed released oxygen to protect electrolytes from decomposition. They also acted as an interfacial layer to prevent microcracking and metal dissolution. 

"Our work will hopefully deliver technical solutions while advancing our understanding of the electrochemistry," Meng said in the release.

Meng will collaborate with researchers from Argonne National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory on the project. They will use electron microscopies and synchrotron-based techniques to investigate the underlying mechanisms of sulfide coatings.