Lithium Battery Electrode Increases Battery Life, Decrease Charge Time by Factor of 10

Chemical engineering is amazing, and there are so many incredible accomplishments possible by just mixing one element with another. Lithium-ion batteries represent an important (if expensive) advancement in battery technology…but they aren’t quite “there” yet. But a new electrode developed by researchers at Northwestern University could increase the capacity of lithium-ion batteries by 10, while decreasing the charge time.There have been many great ideas this year regarding battery technology, from electrical gels to energy-storing membranes. But lithium-ion batteries are still the go-to source for batteries, found in everything from laptops to electric vehicles. Current technology offers a balance between energy storage and recharge time…neither great, but good enough for now.

Lithium-ion batteries work by passing lithiun atoms from one end of the battery to another through the anode and cathode. Charging and density is limited by how many lithium atoms can pass through the anode, made up of long, thin (one atom thin) graphene sheets, which can only accommodate one lithium atom for every six carbon atoms. Scientists have also experimented with replacing carbon with silicon, which can hold more lithium atoms, but the silicon deforms and loses charging capacity after a short while. So what you end up with is a sort of lithium traffic jam, as not enough lithium can make it through the anode to speed up charging or increase range.

However, by placing a thin layer of silicon between the graphene sheets, and creating minute “holes” in the graphene sheets, researchers were able to increase power density by a factor of ten, while simultaneously decreasing charging time, also by a factor of ten. This would mean that current battery technology could be improved dramatically, without significantly increasing costs.

What that would mean is a current Nissan LEAF would have a range of 730 miles, and a empty-to-full charging time of about 3 minutes on a Level 3 charger. My only question is…what is the freakin’ hold up?

Source: PhysOrg

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.