The next-gen battery-powered electric vehicles may soon be a reality thanks to a new lithium-based electrolyte. The invention of a team of researchers from Stanford is published in the June 22 issue of Nature Energy.
In terms of design of the novel electrolyte, the researchers demonstrated how the performance of lithium metal batteries is a promising technology to power laptops, electric vehicles, and other devices.
Most electric cars are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are fast approaching their theoretical limit in terms on energy density. The focus of the study is lithium metal batteries, which are lighter in weight than lithium-ion batteries. The latter can potentially provide more energy per unit volume and weight.
Despite Slew of Advantages, Lithium-metal Batteries pose risk of Failure
Finding use from smartphones to electric cars, lithium-ion batteries have two electrodes. The positively charged cathode contains lithium and a negatively charged anode is usually composed of graphite. An electrolyte solution enables lithium ions to toggle back and forth between cathode and anode when the battery is used and when it is recharged.
Meanwhile, electricity holding capacity of a lithium metal battery is about twice as much per kilogram compared to conventional lithium-ion battery. The lithium metal in lithium ion batteries in place of graphite anode enables to store energy more significantly.
“Lithium metal batteries are promising for electric vehicles, where volume and weight matters,” stated co-author of the study. Nonetheless, the lithium metal anode reacts with the liquid electrolyte during operation. This results in the growth of lithium microstructures on the surface of the anode, which can result in the battery to catch fire and fail.
Researchers have spent decades to try to address the dendrite problem.
The electrolyte is the Achilles’ heel of lithium ion batteries.