Researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University may be on the verge of some exciting breakthroughs.
The researchers may have found a way to revitalize rechargeable lithium batteries.
One of the issues with lithium-ion batteries is as the battery cycles, inactive lithium can be cut off from the electrodes. These islands of “dead” lithium then decrease the battery’s capacity to store charge. However, the researchers discovered that they could make “dead” lithium creep toward the electrodes until it reconnects.
The researchers could initialize this slow creep with a brief, high-current discharging step after the battery charges. Adding this extra step slowed the degradation of the battery and increased its lifetime by nearly 30 per cent.
The study found that the lithium islands were not actually dead. Instead, when charging the cell, the island moved towards the cathode.
In contrast, when discharging it crept in the opposite direction.
The group discovered that a high-current discharge helped maintain the lithium creep towards the anode.
The researchers validated their initial result with multiple batteries and through computer simulation, and each time it worked.
This research will need wider testing, and hopefully will lead to broader adaption by battery manufacturers and automakers.
Source: Green Car Congress