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The ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) group at Burwood activities within IFM investigates the role of interfacial processes in corrosion and energy storage applications. Our research encompasses materials science, electrochemistry and surface science and their application to the problems which occur at a surface where electrochemical processes are taking place e.g. at a battery electrode during charge or at a metal surface that is corroding in salt water.
To meet the increasing demand for higher performance battery technologies, considerable research effort is directed at; lithium metal and magnesium air batteries. The biggest challenge facing battery technology is the safety of these devices, typically employing flammable electrolytes, causing problems with large scale applications such as full electric vehicles.
Focusing on the electrolyte material, our approach is to apply and optimise Room Temperature Ionic Liquids (RTILs) and Organic Ionic Plastic Crystals (OIPCs) for these devices. Both these classes of material are non-volatile and have been shown to support the electrochemistry of the targeted battery systems.
Metal/air batteries are a class of high energy density power devices. Current research includes the development of novel electrolytes and anode materials for magnesium/air and zinc/air cells. In particular, research is focused on the combined interface and its role in the operation of the batteries under varying conditions.
Alloys of the light metals magnesium (Mg) and aluminium (Al) suffer severe corrosion in saline environments, where they are often employed. Previously chromate conversion coatings have been used as they offer excellent paint adhesion and corrosion resistance. However, chromium (VI) is extremely toxic and carcinogenic, pushing for green alternatives.
Rare earth inhibitors (Ce, La and mishmetal coupled with DPP) have been researched for use on Al alloys. Their corrosion protection is significant and ongoing research is being conducted to fully understand their manner of inhibition and film formation.
Ionic liquids (ILs) have only recently been investigated for use to form corrosion inhibiting films on both Mg and Al alloys. Successful films have been formed, however the influence of chemistry, applied potential, temperature and time are still unclear and are being investigated. Research into the use of ILs as an electrolyte for anodisation and to control corrosion of Mg alloy stents used to treat coronary artery disease is also underway.