College of Science, Engineering & Technology

Unisa professor granted his first South African patent for a clean-energy invention

Prof Xinying Liu

A sought-after alternative to nickel batteries, lithium-ion batteries are used for recharging hybrid and electronic vehicles and domestic energy storage. They offer higher performance and better charge rates at a much lower cost.

They use organic phosphoric acid as carbon and phosphoric sources to produce uniformly carbon-coated lithium-ion batteries that overcome the challenges of insufficient capacity and low energy density, ultimately resulting in battery failure.

Prof Xinying Liu, from Unisa’s Institute of Energy for African Sustainability in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, has been granted his South African patent for a new manufacturing method for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. "This method allows the manufacture of batteries for applications that need a long life cycle and significant safety," he says.

New method to tackle the current power supply challenge

The country is indisputably facing an energy crisis. South Africans have experienced rolling blackouts for the past 12 years. In addition to that, the fuel price has reached new highs recently. "Batteries are so far the best solution for small-scale energy storage. Better materials improve the energy storage capacity of a battery. And thanks to lower manufacturing costs, we can deliver cheaper and better batteries for energy storage," he says.

Liu adds that the new method can produce batteries for electric vehicles and domestic energy storage. Domestic energy storage offers a safe solution to the country’s current power supply problems. He believes his production method can also promote a distributed-energy solution for rural areas.

He hopes his manufacturing method for high-performance lithium-ion batteries will encourage his research team and Unisa to conduct further research on clean energy in response to Sustainable Development Goal 7, which advocates affordable and clean energy.

* Compiled by Mpho Moloele, PR and Communications, Department of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation

Publish date: 2022/06/23

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