Staff in Physics and Chemistry Jointly Win 40 Million LKR Research Grant from the AHEAD Scheme of the World Bank

 Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development (AHEAD) Development Oriented Research (DOR) Grant Funded by the World Bank

Development of Novel Electrolyte and Electrode Materials for Secondary Sodium-Ion and Magnesium-Ion Batteries

 Department of Physics & Department of Chemistry – University of Jaffna

National Institute of Fundamental Studies (NIFS) – Kandy

 A mega proposal on so-called “Batteries Beyond Lithium-Ion” won a research grant of 40 million LKR from the World Bank under the AHEAD DOR scheme for research work of 3 years’ duration. It could be noted that only two grants are awarded to the north under this DOR scheme. This particular grant is a joint effort by the staff of Physics and Chemistry of the University of Jaffna and also the staff of the National Institute of Fundamental Studies (NIFS) in Kandy. The research team consists of Dr.K.Vignarooban (PI), Prof.K.Veluathamurthy and Dr.G.Sashikesh from the Faculty of Science of the University of Jaffna and Dr.Athula Wijayasinghe from the NIFS.

Foreign collaborators in the project are Prof.A.M.Kannan of the Arizona State University, USA and Prof.Aleksandar Matic of the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Two existing laboratories, Laboratory for Energy Conversion and Storage (LECS) at the Department of Physics and Spectroscopic Laboratory at the Department of Chemistry, will be renovated and upgraded to carry out this mega project. A brief note on the research theme of the project is given below.

Due to ever increasing prices of petroleum resources, renewable energy sources are becoming more and more important to fulfill future global energy demands. Efficient energy storage systems such as rechargeable batteries are vital for storing these intermittently available renewable energies. After the commercialization of rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries (LIBs) in 1991 by SONY corporation, LIBs have been one of the best choices in view of the specific capacity and cyclic stability. However, the global lithium reserves are being depleted and will not be sufficient to meet the ever increasing demand for portable power sources. This is why, recent rechargeable battery research efforts are mainly focused on so-called “Batteries Beyond Lithium-Ion“. Due to the natural abundancy and relatively lower cost of sodium and magnesium, sodium based or magnesium based rechargeable batteries would be viable alternative to expensive LIBs. Development of novel electrode and electrolyte materials for sodium-ion and magnesium-ion batteries will be carried out under this project. Battery cycling and performance evaluation of full-cells will also be done. Better understanding of the fundamental processes involved in the development of novel electrolytes and electrode materials will be one of the important performance achievement targets at the successful completion of this project. Comprehensive research training will be given to 4-5 postgraduates and more than 10 undergraduates from the Department of Physics and Department of Chemistry, thus contributing to the capacity building of research personnel in the country. Further, undergraduate students from both Departments will continuously use major instruments purchased under this grant to carry out their final year research projects.