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The importance of recharging your batteries

The unique properties of ‘next-generation’ lithium-ion batteries will be explored in a JCU public lecture this week.

First published 16 October 2012

The unique properties of ‘next-generation’ lithium-ion batteries will be explored in a James Cook University public lecture this week.

The lecture is being held as part of the Faculty of Science & Engineering’s Public Lecture Series, which showcases JCU’s research to the community and is designed to inform, educate and entertain residents about current science and engineering issues.

“Lithium-ion Batteries” will be presented by Dr Rosalind Gummow this Thursday (October 18).

Dr Gummow said lithium-ion batteries were a type of rechargeable battery that could store the most energy in the smallest volume and with the smallest weight, compared to other rechargeable battery types.

“They also have a very high energy density,” she said.

“For example, a typical lithium-ion battery is six times lighter than a lead-acid battery that could store the same amount of energy.

“A lead-acid battery is the type of battery that is used to start your car.  Lithium-ion batteries can also be charged and discharged hundreds of times.”

Dr Gummow said these properties made lithium-ion batteries ideal for portable applications and they were used in about 90 percent of portable electronic devices like laptops and mobile phones.

“Lithium-ion batteries are now also appearing in new applications like electric vehicles, to replace the internal combustion engine,” she said.

“This is very important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve the environment for the future.

“The second new area where you will find lithium-ion batteries is in storing energy generated from renewable sources.  These sources, like solar and wind power, are intermittent and we need to store the energy generated at times when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing so that we can use it later when we need it.”

Dr Gummow said these new applications needed batteries with even higher energy density, excellent safety, lower cost and longer calendar life to meet the expectations of consumers.

“These goals can only be met with new battery materials,” she said.

“There is intense research all over the world to develop these new materials.  At JCU our research is focussed on producing novel silicate cathodes.

“They are made from abundant natural starting materials and could lead to batteries with higher energy density and lower cost than existing battery chemistries.”


Dr Rosalind Gummow is a graduate of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She was involved in the early research in lithium-ion battery cathode development in South Africa as a PhD student of Dr Michael Thackeray in the early 1990s.  She holds 13 international patents on lithium-ion battery cathodes including a patent for the cathode material currently used in hybrid electric vehicle batteries like the Holden Volt. She moved to Australia in 2008 and is currently working as a researcher in lithium-ion battery cathode development in the JCU School of Engineering with Prof Yinghe He.


Date: Thursday 18th October 2012

Time: 5.30pm

Location: Sir George Kneipp Auditorium, JCU Townsville campus

Everyone is welcome

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175