Energy

A salty battery bath to combat EV range anxiety

Scientists from the CSIRO, working jointly with researchers from RMIT University and QUT, have created a salt bath pre-process that promises to vastly improve lithium-based battery life and performance
Scientists from the CSIRO, working jointly with researchers from RMIT University and QUT, have created a salt bath pre-process that promises to vastly improve lithium-based battery life and performance
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The new pre-treatment process uses a range of patented chemical formulations
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The new pre-treatment process uses a range of patented chemical formulations
Lithium electrodes treated using the process show no degradation and no dendrite formation
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Lithium electrodes treated using the process show no degradation and no dendrite formation
Scientists from the CSIRO, working jointly with researchers from RMIT University and QUT, have created a salt bath pre-process that promises to vastly improve lithium-based battery life and performance
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Scientists from the CSIRO, working jointly with researchers from RMIT University and QUT, have created a salt bath pre-process that promises to vastly improve lithium-based battery life and performance

The degradation of electrodes in lithium-based batteries has been a major inhibitor to their operating life, particularly when dendrites "growing" from these corroding electrodes short-circuit in the electrolyte. Australian researchers have found that pre-treating lithium electrodes in a special salt bath decreases the breakdown of the electrodes and boosts performance and battery life so markedly it could bring an end to range anxiety for drivers of electric vehicles.

Scientists from the CSIRO, working jointly with researchers from RMIT University and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), claim that their pre-treating technique is so efficient that even after 1,000 charge/discharge cycles, their prototype retains greater than 99.5 percent Coulombic efficiency, which is a measure of the difference between the incoming and outgoing charges in a battery as it cycles through charging.

The researchers believe that their new process will help bring on the development of super-efficient energy storage methods that will completely negate battery range anxiety that is a major impediment for the electric car industry today.

"Our research has shown by pre-treating lithium metal electrodes, we can create batteries with charge efficiency that greatly exceeds standard lithium batteries," said CSIRO battery researcher Dr Adam Best. "The pre-treatment reduces the breakdown of electrolytes during operation, which is what determines the battery's increased performance and lifetime."

Lithium electrodes treated using the process show no degradation and no dendrite formation
Lithium electrodes treated using the process show no degradation and no dendrite formation

By immersing lithium metal electrodes in an electrolyte bath containing a mixture of the lithium salts Lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (LiFSI) and lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) and the ionic liquid 1-Methyl-1-propylpyrrolidinium chloride (C3mpyr), the pre-treatment covers the surface of the electrode with a protective film that is so efficient that even after more than 2,500 hours of battery cycling, no evidence of any dendrite formation was found.

Whilst a myriad other methods have been researched on eliminating dendrite formation from the degradation of lithium battery electrodes, including coating them with carbon nanospheres and changing the composition of the electrolyte in which they are immersed, this latest technology has shown the largest number of charge/discharge cyclic efficiency with absolutely no dendrite formation visible.

Other advantages of this process include the ability for treated batteries to sit on the shelf for up to a year without their performance being affected, and that the techniques are simple and easy to adopt in current battery manufacturing methods.

The CSIRO holds patents to the electrolyte salt solutions, which come in a variety of different chemical compositions. The research team is now intent on creating and evolving batteries based on the new process and techniques, and is currently searching for commercial collaborators to assist in commercial development of the technology.

The results of this research were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: CSIRO

7 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is very good news for electric vehicles.
nicho
Range anxiety isn't about battery charge/discharge cycles. It's about whether someone will run out of fuel before they get where they're going. Range anxiety applies equally to new cars as it does ones with 10000 cycles on the clock. Higher capacity cells can relieve range anxiety. Longer lasting ones won't.
rbhebron
..hello.. just called the biggest lithium ion battery plant in the world and they are very interested... one in china, one in nevada USA, and one in germany.. ok the charge cycle addressed... but what about charge capacity..? how about what happens when it goes thru high amp charging..? did not mention anything about this very important aspects of lithium ion batteries.. if charge capacity becomes higher, then truly, the fear of range anxiety will have been addressed.. higher charge capacity means farthest distance on a single charge... but how high is the charge capacity 7 how far will it last..? high amp charging means that you can subject the battery to high amps charging and it will be able to sustain the current and wont overheat..
Raven Bo
They are talking about CAR MAKER anxiety after few years. It is more of ENDURANCE and they want 70-90% capacity/range after 7-10 years.
watersworm
Agree but let's be positive : Hurray for longer lasting ! And stay tuned for the next breakthrough concerning the "true" range anxiety.
habakak
This article says nothing about battery energy density which is what determines range. This solution addresses the battery life issue (how many times can the battery be charged and discharged without losing capacity). It is an important issue because it would drop the cost of batteries if a battery could last 20 or 30 years vs only 10 years. But it does NOT address range (which is determined by energy density). The 3 main issues with batteries are capacity/energy density, price and charge times/lifetimes. All of these are improving gradually and a leap in just one of these factors is of major importance. This article though is mislabeled.
SaysMe
I hope all lithium battery makers are going to use this...I going to ask them...