Washington, April 25 ANI | 3 months ago

In an attempt to enable production of batteries that last longer than previously thought possible, scientists have created a new and unusual battery chemistry.


Oak Ridge National Laboratory's researchers challenged a long-held assumption that a battery's three main components -- the positive cathode, negative anode and ion-conducting electrolyte -- can play only one role in the device.

The electrolyte in the team's new battery design has dual functions: it serves not only as an ion conductor but also as a cathode supplement.

This cooperative chemistry, enabled by the use of an ORNL-developed solid electrolyte, delivers an extra boost to the battery's capacity and extends the lifespan of the device.

This bi-functional electrolyte revolutionizes the concept of conventional batteries and opens a new avenue for the design of batteries with unprecedented energy density, ORNL's Chengdu Liang said.

The team demonstrated the new concept in a lithium carbon fluoride battery, considered one of the best single-use batteries because of its high energy density, stability and long shelf life.

When ORNL researchers incorporated a solid lithium thiophosphate electrolyte, the battery generated a 26 percent higher capacity than what would be its theoretical maximum if each component acted independently.

The increase, explained Liang, is caused by the cooperative interactions between the electrolyte and cathode.

As the battery discharges, it generates a lithium fluoride salt that further catalyzes the electrochemical activity of the electrolyte, Liang said.

"This relationship converts the electrolyte -- conventionally an inactive component in capacity -- to an active one," Liang said.

The improvement in capacity could translate into years or even decades of extra life, depending on how the battery is engineered and used.

Longer-lived disposable batteries are in demand for applications such as such as artificial cardiac pacemakers, radiofrequency identification devices, remote keyless system, and sensors, where replacing or recharging a battery is not possible or desirable.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

(Posted on 25-04-2014)