Researchers at Stanford University have claimed they developed a new electrolyte design that boosts the performance of lithium metal batteries that could increase the driving range of electric vehicles (EVs).
Electrolytes are liquid substances that are electrically conductive and enable the transportation of ions between the positively charged anode and negatively charged cathode of a battery when it is used and recharged.
Lithium metal batteries use lithium metal-based anodes, unlike lithium-ion batteries, which use graphite-based ones. As a result, they can hold about twice as much electricity as conventional lithium-ion batteries.
The researchers explained that so far, the lithium metal anode reacts with the electrolyte, causing the battery to catch fire and fail. They said that the electrolyte solution had been one of the biggest factors holding back progress for lithium metal batteries.
In their study, the researchers said that their design concept for electrolytes provides a much more promising path to high-energy, long-cycling lithium metal batteries. Their experiments hypothesized that adding fluorine atoms onto the electrolyte molecule would make the electrolyte liquid more stable. This solution can be easily and cost-efficiently produced in bulk, as well.
The study showed that their experimental battery retained 90% of its initial charge even after 420 cycles of charging and discharging, whereas traditional lithium metal batteries stop working after about 30 cycles. They claimed their battery was able to achieve 325 watt-hours per kilogram specific energy.
It also claimed that the new electrolyte solution showed promising results when tested in commercially available batteries, as well. It also said that in addition to lasting longer and being more stable, the new electrolyte was also much less flammable than conventional ones.
The researchers said that following this development, they will be working with Battery500, a research consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to focus on making lithium metal batteries viable. Together, they plan to work towards the consortium’s goal of achieving 500 watt-hours per kilogram.
In April, Mercom reported that Japanese researchers developed a new electrode material that they claim will make lithium batteries cheaper, more stable, and capable of holding more charge for longer periods.
Nithin is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Reuters News, he has covered oil, metals and agricultural commodity markets across global markets. He has also covered refinery and pipeline explosions, oil and gas leaks, Atlantic region hurricane developments, and other natural disasters. Nithin holds a Masters Degree in Applied Economics from Christ University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai.