Queen’s University BelfastUsing Ionic Liquids in the Transition To Renewable Energies

Using Ionic Liquids in the Transition To Renewable Energies

Researchers at the QUILL Research Centre (Queen's University Ionic Liquid Laboratories) are discovering how ionic liquid technology can be used in the development and recycling of magnets and batteries used in renewable energy technologies.

The world’s supply of rare earth metals is dwindling. They need to be mined, which is harmful to the environment, and recycling rates are low and involve challenging separation processes. To reduce the carbon footprint of battery manufacturing, researchers at QUILL have been working on the recovery of rare earth metals from end-of-life magnets and batteries.

QUILL brings together researchers from the fields of applied chemistry and chemical engineering. By combining their knowledge and resources within the area of ionic liquids, they can build on their expertise, provide new sustainable energy solutions, and take them through to technology readiness levels.

QUILL is also working closely with long-term partners in the energy industry. This includes multinational, global companies such as Chevron and Petronas who have previously worked with Queen’s on removing toxic heavy metals from petrochemical processing.

Researchers have created an environmentally benign, ionic liquids-based method to separate rare earth metals.

The method separates end-of-life magnets back into pure metals to make new magnets, reducing the mining of rare earth metals and the carbon footprint associated with transporting them. This technology has been patented and is currently in use by industry partners.

We are also developing a new type of redox flow battery for more sustainable energy storage. Redox flow batteries can store large amounts of energy in their electrolytes and have a lifespan of more than 25 years, offering clear advantages over lithium-ion batteries.

We’re committed to making a meaningful impact on the world. A community of innovators, disruptors, and change-makers, we’re working with industry to broaden our translational impact to help tackle the global challenges of our age. Read more about how our research shapes worlds.

Learn more about Queen’s University’s commitment to nurturing a culture of sustainability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through research and education. Read more here.

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