Conversion cathodes for rechargeable lithium and lithium-ion batteries
Commercial lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries built with Ni- and Co-based intercalation-type cathodes suffer from low specific energy, high toxicity and high cost. A further increase in the energy storage characteristics of such cells is challenging because capacities of such intercalation compounds approach their theoretical values and a further increase in their maximum voltage induces serious safety concerns. The growing market for portable energy storage is undergoing a rapid expansion as new applications demand lighter, smaller, safer and lower cost batteries to enable broader use of plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles (PHEVs and EVs), drones and renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. Conversion-type cathode materials are some of the key candidates for the next-generation of rechargeable Li and Li-ion batteries. Continuous rapid progress in performance improvements of such cathodes is essential to utilize them in future applications. In this review we consider price, abundance and safety of the elements in the periodic table for their use in conversion cathodes. We further compare specific and volumetric capacities of a broad range of conversion materials. By offering a model for practically achievable volumetric energy density and specific energy of Li cells with graphite, silicon (Si) and lithium (Li) anodes, we observe the impact of cathode chemistry directly. This allows us to estimate potentials of different conversion cathodes for exceeding the energy characteristics of cells built with state of the art intercalation compounds. We additionally review the key challenges faced when using conversion-type active materials in cells and general strategies to overcome them. Finally, we discuss future trends and perspectives for cost reduction and performance enhancement.