24 Jan 2013:
Solid Electrolyte Could Lead
To Larger, Safer Lithium Ion Batteries
U.S. researchers have developed a high-performance, solid electrolyte for use in energy-dense lithium ion batteries that they say is safer than existing liquid electrolytes and could lead to batteries that are five to 10 times more powerful than existing batteries
. While lithium-ion batteries typically utilize liquid electrolytes to conduct the lithium ions between the positively charged cathode and the negatively charged anode, the liquid materials pose flammability risks — especially as engineers attempt to make more powerful lightweight batteries. Utilizing a chemical process known as nanostructuring — which involves altering the structure of the crystals that make up materials — scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) say they were able to create a nanoporous solid electrolyte that conducts ions 1,000 times faster than in its natural bulk form, enabling more energy-dense batteries. According to the researchers, this innovation could allow engineers to develop pure lithium anodes, which could yield batteries that are far more powerful than those using carbon-based anodes. “A solid electrolyte enables the lithium metal to cycle well, with highly enhanced safety,” said Chengdu Liang, a ORNL researcher and lead author of the study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society
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