Grab your fedora because Dr Joanne Loh is on an adventure. An adventure to explore the secrets of critical minerals for storage technologies.
Much like Dr Jones, it was a great teacher in high school that led Joanne into a career in chemistry.
“When I started university, I wanted to study chemistry and archaeology and unlock the adventures of Indiana Jones,” Joanne said.
And she didn’t choose poorly. Chemistry unlocked her adventure in science. Her career has spanned working in an alumina refinery to studying crystallisation in the Netherlands.
Joanne is now building our science capability in critical minerals for energy storage technologies such as batteries.
Think about your daily diet of digital technologies. From powering our phones and electric cars to running off-grid solar at home, batteries are essential. Energy storage is the “holy grail” of our transition to more renewable and low emission energy.
Joanne’s work is in the supply of compounds for current battery chemistries. She is part of a wider CSIRO team that works across the battery value chain.
Joanne’s team at Waterford in Perth has been working on purifying graphite. You may know graphite as the ‘lead’ in your pencil. Graphite is also the leading material used to make battery anodes (the positive electrode in a battery).
“Battery anodes are made from very pure graphite. Our team has developed a process to achieve greater than 99.95 per cent purity," Joanne said.
The team has been doing this work in their lab and is now working to scale up the process.
“We are looking to increase production from one kilogram to 20 kilograms scale.”
Taking a lead in critical minerals
To create a global change in our energy systems we need global collaboration. Working with international partners, we can speed up decarbonisation efforts. We can achieve this through faster transfer of technology and innovation.
We recently appointed Joanne as a group leader for critical minerals. She’ll be managing our India-Australia Critical Minerals Research Partnership.
“The breadth of skill and expertise we have in CSIRO gives us an almost unrivalled opportunity to contribute across the value chains for critical minerals and batteries,” Joanne said.
“The Partnership focuses on strengthening supply chains for battery materials. Our collaborative research projects are contributing to diversified, resilient and responsible sources of critical minerals which support new local jobs and industries for both nations.”
“It’s exciting to be involved in this initiative which seeks to benefit India and Australia. And I’m hopeful our work will ultimately have global impact to benefit everyone,” she said.
While it may not be Indiana Jones, it’s an exciting time to be part of our critical mineral crusade.