mobile science & technology

Batteries take the lithium for charge boost • The Register

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To do that, the researchers coated a lithium anode with a layer of hollow carbon nanospheres, to prevent the growth of the dendrites.

via Batteries take the lithium for charge boost • The Register.

As research is being done on incremental improvements in Lithium Ion batteries, some occasional discoveries are being made. In this instance, the anode is being switched to pure lithium with a coating to protect the very reactive metal surface. The problem with using pure lithium is the growth of micro crystalline “dendrites”, kind of like stalagmites/stalactites in caves, along the whole surface. As the the dendrites build up, the anode loses it’s efficiency and that battery slowly loses it’s ability to charge all the way. This research has shown how to coat a pure lithium anode with a later of carbon nanotubes to help act as a permeable layer between the the electrolytic liquid in the battery and the pure lithium anode.

In past articles on we’ve seen announcements of other possible battery technologies like Zinc-Air, Lithium-Air and possible use of carbon nanotubes as a anode material. This announcement is promising in that it’s added costs might be somewhat smaller versus a wholesale change in battery chemistry. Similarly the article points out how much lighter elemental Lithium is versus the current anode materials (Carbon and Silicon). If the process of coating the anode is sufficiently inexpensive and can be done on a industrial production line, you will see this get adopted. But with most experiments like these, scaling up and lowering costs is the hardest thing to do. Hopefully this is one that will make it into shipping products and see the light of day.


science & technology technology

Lithium-Air Battery interest increasing

PolyPlus aqeuous lithium air battery
PolyPlus aqeuous lithium air battery

Back on July 8th I posted an article talking about the benefits of a new battery technology I had read about on weblog called Technology Review (originally published on June 26th from MIT). It think it may have originally been linked to either Slashdot or The Register. The blog entry was essentially like a press release from a company in California named PolyPlus. They had just announced the project to create single use high energy density Lithium-Air batteries for the military (most likely for radio communications in the field). The key technology was a new way to wrap the lithium cathode in a waterproof seal while still exposing it to the surrounding air encapsulated in the battery. It seems now some other big monied interests have caught onto this new battery chemistry and are going to produce it as well, but maybe not as a single use battery but instead as a rechargeable battery.

IBM is in the news touting the promise of the lithium-air technology as a potential technological nirvana for autmobile drive trains. Estimates are a 10X increase in energy density per kilogram of battery electrolyte material. If this can be achieved, watch out electric vehicles here we come.

Lithium-ion batteries have the potential to deliver about 585 watt-hours of electricity per kilogram, while lithium-sulfur has a theoretical potential of about 2,600 watt-hours, and lithium-air batteries might reach targets well above 5,000 watt-hours.

If they can be perfected, lithium-air batteries would be ideal for transportation applications, given their potential for high energy capacity and low weight. And, unlike zinc-air batteries, it should be possible to make them rechargeable.

via Lithium-Air Batteries Seen as Hope for Electric Cars –