Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Chair(s)

Tianbiao Liu


Tianbiao Liu


Lisa M. Berreau


Alexander I. Boldyrev


Robert S. Brown


Jixun Zhan


Electric vehicles, smart phones, and portable computers are all powered by lithium-ion batteries. This is because Li-ion batteries can store more energy in less space than other battery technologies. Also, they are rechargeable and last for a long time. The most recent 2019 Nobel prize in chemistry was awarded to John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”. Through their work, they have made possible cars that do not burn fossil fuels and phones that are wireless and portable. Not only can Li-ion power your phone, it is an incredibly efficient way to store energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, or hydroelectric.

From the introduction of the Li-ion Battery into the public market until now the fundamentals of the battery technology have remained relatively the same. This means a metal oxide electrode containing Co is combined with a Li containing electrolyte. Both Co and Li are rare elements that have sustainability issues. Replacing these components could make batteries more energy dense and sustainable for future generations.

The first part of this work describes an improved synthetic method to make battery electrodes from renewable organic materials and earth abundant elements. These electrodes were found to provide energy densities rivaling those found in current Li-ion technologies. The electrodes featured in this work make use of a type of material called metal organic frameworks (abbreviated as MOFs). The MOFs in this work were found to work well for Li batteries and last for over 1000 cycles. Spectroscopic techniques were used to prove that it is advantageous for both the metal and the organic component of the MOFs to store energy.

The other unsustainable component of the battery is the Li electrolyte. In this work Ca electrolytes were improved and developed. Ca is a highly abundant and nontoxic element that is found everywhere. These qualities make it a highly suitable alternative to Li. Ca electrolytes have different properties than Li. Here the very important contributions of the solvent used in the electrolyte are examined. Not very many Ca electrolytes currently work for batteries. In this dissertation a new working Ca electrolyte was discovered and fully tested for its ability to work in Ca batteries. Two full functioning Ca batteries were tested with different electrolytes and electrodes. These batteries are the most energy dense Ca batteries ever reported and are directly competitive with Li-ion batteries.



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