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Battery Tech Limitation Discovered, Improvements On The Way?

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Lithium-ion battery pack of 2011 Nissan Leaf, showing cells assembled into modules

Lithium-ion battery pack of 2011 Nissan Leaf, showing cells assembled into modules

There are three main paths to improving batteries for future electric vehicles.

One is the development of entirely new technology replacing today's batteries entirely with something lighter, more powerful and more energy dense. The next is the greening of batteries--reducing their environmental impact.

The other is simply to find incremental improvements in today's technology--like eliminating some of its current weaknesses.

According to the Ohio State University (via CleanTechnica), One such weakness has been found in the chemistry of current lithium-ion batteries, and scientists are now looking into fixing that issue.

Scientists at the University have discovered that as the batteries are used, they slowly lose lithium, as it accumulates outside the battery electrodes.

It turns out the "missing" lithium is accumulating inside the 'current collector'--a copper sheet which improves the efficiency of electron transfer between the electrodes--in addition to the known collection on the outside of the anode.

"We didn’t set out to find lithium in the current collector," explained Bharat Bhusan, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, "...so you could say we accidentally discovered it, and how it got there is a bit of a mystery. As far as we know, nobody has ever expected active lithium to migrate inside the current collector."

Researchers at Ohio have been studying the degredation of batteries, but discovered the lithium collections almost by accident.

The knowledge could now lead to improvements in technology, ensuring more lithium ions move efficiently between anode and cathode when the battery is charging and discharging--rather than collecting elsewhere.

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Comments (2)
  1. So is fixing the problem going to make batteries more efficient to run or will it simply improve battery life span?
     
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  2. This will be an incremental improvement. How much, remains to be seen. Li batteries can last over 2,000 charge cycles, about 10 years. There are issues that can reduce this considerably; letting the batteries self discharge is bad. The other may be charging at very high rates, frequently.

    The issue missing to drive down the prices of EV batteries is size standardization. Nissan has an advantage by manufacturing MODULES as mentioned in story. Nissan had no interest in using their module for a battery size standard?
    Most portable electronics today used AA, A, C, D and 9V size standard batteries. You can buy them very inexpensively, by numerous companies with varying degrees of chemistry and quality.
    Auto companies just dont want EV's
     
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