High energy battery breakthrough could create supercharged electronics

Researchers at the Washington State University have developed a method to address safety concerns with lithium metal batteries, a development which the team believes could be a steppingstone towards viable high-energy batteries for future energy storage needs.

The team developed a battery with selenium disulphide (a chemical found in dandruff shampoo) packed into a porous carbon structure for the cathode, adding two additives to the liquid electrolytes which worked to form a protective layer on the lithium metal surface that is dense and conductive.
When tested, the team found that the protected lithium metal anode was able to recharge 500 times while retaining high efficiency performance. 

The researchers used a formulation for the batteries that created a protective layer around the lithium anode, negating the risk of battery degradation, allowing the batteries to work longer under routine conditions. 

Lithium metal is considered by some, including Min-Kyu Song, assistant professor, WSU School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering to be a ‘dream material’ for batteries. 

Lithium metal has the highest energy density of known solid materials, meaning that batteries have the potential to run for twice as long and hold a larger amount of energy than traditional lithium-ion batteries used in most electronics. 

 Song commented: “If we can directly use lithium metal, we can improve the energy density of batteries dramatically,” 

“If commercialised, this novel formulation has real potential… Compared to solid-state batteries which are still years away, you don’t have to change the manufacturing procedures, and this would be applicable to real industry much sooner, opening up a promising route toward the development of high-energy lithium metal batteries with a long cycle life.”

Work continues on the battery, with the team aiming to develop a separator that will protect the battery materials from further deterioration and increase safety without comprising performance. 

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