Photo: Sini Pennanen

Tanja Kallio: A new age of safer and more efficient batteries

Tanja Kallio develops new, environmentally friendly materials for batteries to improve their efficiency and minimise the risk of overheating.

Docent Tanja Kallio of Aalto University became interested in chemistry in her teens. After school, she started studying electrochemistry and inorganic chemistry at the Helsinki University of Technology. Her doctoral thesis, completed in 2003, dealt with the development of fuel cell components.

Over the last few years, Kallio’s research on batteries has helped the Aalto University make several breakthroughs on the subject.

In one of the projects of the research team, the toxic solvent used in battery electrodes has been successfully replaced with water. This not only helps to reduce the manufacturing costs of batteries, but also minimises the risk of workers to be exposed to harmful substances.

“In addition to durability and environmental friendliness, another important thing to consider with batteries is safety. The purpose of our research is to reduce the risk of overheating involved in current batteries,” says Kallio.

The quick development of mobile devices and the ever-increasing number of electric cars give a sense of urgency to battery-related research, and companies want to use research results for their own product development purposes.

“The development of batteries should always be based on the needs of the application. In mobile phones and electric cars, for example, the focus is on lighter, more durable batteries that can be charged as quickly as possible,” Kallio says.

A new challenge to battery-related research is the increased use of renewable energy. To reap the benefits of solar energy, for example, a crucial question is the availability of a new type of battery technology that would enable the storage of large amounts of energy.

Text: Matti Remes