By Dr. Cameron Chai
A team of researchers presented a report about a new lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery prototype with a 3-D design at the American Chemical Society’s 241st National Meeting and Exposition. The new battery is ideal for powering electric cars.
The 3-D Li-ion battery prototype, which is a size of a battery used in cell phones, can be recharged in 12 minutes than traditional Li-ion battery that take 2 h to be recharged. According to the researchers, the battery’s 3-D architecture offers the durability and strength to it. The prototype’s discharge capability is twice than that of a traditional Li-ion battery at high discharge rates. Its operating life is also twice than that of current Li-ion batteries. Commercial 3-D Li-ion battery would be lighter and thinner than current Li-ion batteries, as its 3-D structure can store more lithium ions per unit volume.
Study leader, Amy Prieto’s research at the Colorado State University is part of an initiative to enhance the performance of Li-ion batteries. Traditional Li-ion battery contains graphite as anode, lithium compound as cathode and an electrolyte that isolates the electrodes. However, the design presents a number of disadvantages, including slow recharge, limited operating life and requirement of special integrated circuits to eliminate overheating. The research team has changed the interior of the traditional Li-ion battery to tackle these issues.
The scientists used copper antimonide nanowires, as anode instead of graphite. The nanowires with a width of 1/50,000th of a single human hair have huge surface area that can store twice the quantity of lithium ions as the same quantity of graphite stored per unit volume. They have high stability in chemicals and heat resistance than graphite. The nanowires are organized into a tightly packed 3-D structure. For the final design, a thin layer of electrolyte is then coated over the nanowires, which are then bounded with traditional lithium cathode.
Prieto has established a company called Prieto Battery to advance the new technology. She expects that the commercial versions of the 3-D Li-ion battery could reach the market within two years.