A new type of Li-ion battery, used in smartphones and electric cars is gathering steam. The battery has drawn attention of researchers at Delft University of Technology along with researchers at Tsinghua University. The researchers have been successful in devising an electrolyte compatible with anode made of lithium metal. Meanwhile, lithium is the Holy Grail for anodes. Theoretically, lithium can help attain two to three times higher energy density compared to current batteries.
Structurally, lithium-ion batteries are composed of three components: two electrodes, the cathode and anode, and an electrolyte. The electrolyte is the chemical matter in which lithium ions travel from one side to the other. And, the electrolyte slowly but surely disintegrates when lithium-ion batteries are charged and discharged. For example, in a cellphone, waste products accrue at the interface between the electrolyte and electrodes. With time, this results in the need to charge cellphone several times a day.
Carbonates electrolyte of current Commercial Batteries
At present, commercial batteries mostly use carbonates as electrolyte. These electrolytes are chemical compounds that contain oxygen and carbon. And, the electrolyte works for current lithium-ion batteries. The electrolyte disintegrates very slowly, making lithium-ion batteries work for years.
“However, it requires use of completely different materials, if the energy density of batteries has to be expanded,” says lead researcher of the study.
Meanwhile, for anodes, lithium is the Holy Grail. This is because lithium can store many more lithium ions, than currently used anodes made of graphite. The higher number of lithium ions is equal to higher energy density, and therefore a battery lasts longer before it drains out.
Theoretically, a battery with lithium anode has a storage capacity that is up to ten times more than that of current batteries.