For the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2020, those behind lithium-ion rechargeable batteries bagged the honor. Evidently, lithium-ion rechargeable batteries have become an essential power source for electronic devices that range from small IT devices to electric vehicles.
Meanwhile, Tesla – a leading automaker in the U.S., emphasized the need to set up an innovative production system and reduce battery cost. This is because batteries make up a large portion of cost of electric vehicles, thus, cost reduction of batteries is essential to make electric vehicles popular.
In the interim, a team of researchers at the Department of Chemistry, POSTECH and Ulsan College have successfully developed a multi-functional separator. This does not prevent the batteries from functioning even if the pouch cell is assembled in ambient air.
The findings of the study are published in the online edition of Energy Storage Materials.
In fact, for assembling lithium-ion batteries, a dry room with less than 1% humidity is required. This is because the electrolyte inside the battery acts with moisture to cause decay. Nonetheless, it is costly to maintain a dry room.
Currently used environments expensive for long-term sustainability
Meanwhile, studies have also been conducted to suppress impurities such as hydrofluoric acid or moisture. This involves injecting additives into the electrolytes. However, injecting additives can cause unwanted side reaction during battery operation. In fact, when batteries are operational on high temperatures, even a small speck of moisture causes deterioration of performance at a fast rate. Therefore, this requires a material that is capable of trapping moisture and contaminants in the battery without causing adverse electrochemical reaction on the additives.
To address this, the research team that worked on it jointly introduced functional materials that can catch impurities on the surface of the separator.