Publication date: Jan 19, 2021
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries dominate the consumer electronics and electric vehicle markets. However, concerns on Li availability have prompted the development of alternative high energy density electrochemical energy storage systems. Rechargeable batteries based on a Ca metal anode can exhibit advantages in terms of energy density, safety and cost. The development of rechargeable Ca metal batteries requires the identification of suitable high specific energy cathode materials. This work focuses on Ca-bearing minerals because they represent stable and abundant compounds. Suitable minerals should contain a transition metal able of being reversibly reduced and oxidized, which points to several major classes of silicates and carbonates: olivine (CaFeSiO4; kirschsteinite), pyroxene (CaFe/MnSi2O6; hedenbergite and johannsenite, respectively), garnet (Ca3Fe/Cr2Si3O12; andradite and uvarovite, respectively), amphibole (Ca2Fe5Si8O22(OH)2; ferroactinolite) and double carbonates (CaMn(CO3)2; kutnahorite and CaFe(CO3)2; ankerite). This work discusses their electrode characteristics based on crystal chemistry analysis and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. The results indicate that upon Ca deintercalation, compounds such as pyroxene, garnet and double carbonate minerals could display high theoretical energy densities (ranging from 780 to 1500 Wh/kg) with moderate structural modifications. As a downside, DFT calculations indicate a hampered Ca mobility in their crystal structures. The overall analysis then disregards olivine, garnet, pyroxene, amphibole and double carbonates as structural types for future Ca-cathode materials design.
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