Can the pristine lithium battery become the sensational “upgraded” revolutionary technology? The scientists of Clemson University and TU Delft have respectively developed a lighter battery recently that is capable of a faster charging speed, which paves a trail blazing path for the next generation lithium battery.
The existing lithium ion battery primarily adopts graphite anode, for which the power storage capacity that is almost at its peak prompts for a new solution that will fulfill the demand for power. Hence, scientists have begun testing on materials like silicon and lithium that are able to store more electric charges, which indicates that the same battery weight from the past is now able to store additional power.
Both silicon anode and lithium anode expand during charging and return to their normal sizes during discharging, and the durability of anode materials will be substantially diminished, thus the existing batteries are generally focused on graphite and carbon.
Clemson University has proposed a solution accordingly that uses “nanoparticles” to elevate the stability and extend the lifespan of batteries, where silicon nanoparticles are squashed in between the buckypaper. Podila commented that the nanoparticles will remain intact within the buckypaper even when broken.
As commented by the research team, the connected nanotubes allow nanoparticles to be electrically connected and formed into a 3D structure that remains robust after 500 cycles of charging and discharging. This technology not only elevates battery capacity, but also uses larger current to help with charging for batteries that will reduce the charging duration.
The silicon anode battery developed by the Clemson University may be entering the space and providing power for Mars probes in the future. Ramakrishna Podila, assistant professor of astrophysics at Clemson University, commented that the power source for most existing satellite comes from solar panels, and an energy storage system will be required to support power provision when the artificial satellites or probes enter shady areas. Scientists wish to reduce the weight of batteries, since the heavier the battery is, the heavier the satellite becomes, and followed by elevating cost.
This study is also sponsored by NASA. Contact person of Clemson University and the research team of NASA commented that silicon anode is the “holy grail” in the research sector of lithium ion battery, and will soon enter the field of electric vehicles, where the next target is collaboration with the industry in order to showcase the relevant products on the market.
Significant Potential on Lithium Anode
Another “holy grail” of lithium battery has also made progress recently. TU Delft’s research team has conquered the issue of reliability for lithium anode battery by having developed a brand new electrolyte that forms a unique protective layer during charging and discharging, which elevates the stability of the battery after series of charging.
The electrolytes within existing commercial lithium batteries are formed with the chemical substances of carbon and oxygen that are able to preserve high efficiency and lifespan for batteries, though the amide electrolyte researched and developed by TU Delft’s team can also prevent corrosion. Marnix Wagemaker, chief of research, commented that the fast chemical reaction of amide facilitates a rapid formation of a protective layer.
It has also been discovered within the lab test that the new lithium anode battery has a high average coulombic efficiency, and a remarkable retention rate in battery capacity thanks to the solid interface form by the electrolytes, which helps to accelerate the electrical conductivity and stability between ions.
The next phase for the study is to optimize the battery, and further probe into how other components can be improved, for which the team has placed high hopes on. Wagemaker commented that the prototype for the lithium anode battery will make its debut soon, and it is anticipated that the energy density will be 2-3 times better than of the past level. Although its lifespan may not be able to reach a few thousand times, it will definitely achieve few hundred cycles of charging and discharging.
(Cover photo source: shutterstock)