KY NSF EPSCoR is Building the Next Generation
of High-Performance Batteries.

Developing the Next Generation of Lithium Ion Battery Technology

Presently, there is an intense, global effort toward developing durable lithium ion batteries (LIBs) with high energy and power capacity for a wide range of applications, including electric and hybrid vehicles.


Our work provides a path for Kentucky to participate in a robust and growing market for battery components, explore the feasibility of promising new biomass-derived battery materials, and advance our knowledge of specific energy, specific power, cycle life, and cost in energy production and storage.


A high-end lithium-polymer battery can lose about 20 percent of its capacity after 1000 charge cycles.

Source: Popular Mechanics


Why do Batteries Break Down?

In a typical lithium ion battery, ions flow freely between a cathode and an anode. Charging a battery forces ions from the cathode to the anode, using the battery reverses this process.


Over time, this process damages the cathode, causing small fractures to form. As the fractured area grows with the number of charge-and-discharge cycles, degradation in battery energy and power densities becomes more severe, eventually leading to battery failure.


The Kentucky NSF EPSCoR program is exploring innovative approaches to develop revolutionary battery technology with self-healing capabilities, extending the life cycle of lithium-ion batteries.

Cross-pillar research on the electrochemistry of lignin-based materials.

We collaborate with the faculty and students in the Advanced Membranes and Chemical Biology research pillar groups to evaluate the electrochemical properties of polymorphic lignocellulosic materials generated by chemical perturbation of lignin biosynthesis pathways.

Lithium-active "liquid metal" (LM)-based self-healing electrodes.

We’re exploring techniques using lithium-active Liquid Metal (LM) based electrodes to develop self-healing materials. In the solid state, the electrode may crack like other solid electrodes. However, the electrode is expected to undergo a solid-to-liquid phase transformation during delithiation and return the electrode to the initial liquid state, thus erasing any cracks.

Micro- and nano-carbon sphere made from biomass.

We will develop nanostructured capacitor materials composed of micro and nano carbon spheres, using low-cost hydrothermal synthesis to produce a sub-micrometer and nanometer sized particles, rods, or tubes from a variety of biomass deconstruction samples.

“Kentucky is the third largest automobile manufacturing state. With the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, we anticipate a lot of changes in this industry, which will depend on lithium ion battery technology.”

YT Cheng
Electrochemical Energy Storage Research Pillar Leader,

at the University of Kentucky


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