Tag: lithium-ion

There’s yet another performance gain for Lithium ion-batteries

lemon batteryIt seems that the world+dog is coming up with new ways to double the capacity of lithium-ion batteries.

Last week, we told how MIT had come up with a cunning plan and now it seems that Samsung researchers have developed materials that double the power capacity of lithium-ion batteries.

Writing in the popular science magazine Nature, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) said the technology uses silicon cathode material coded with high-crystalline graphene to produce batteries with twice as much capacity as ordinary lithium-ion batteries.

It claimed that the new technology will enhance the performance of mobile devices and electric vehicles.

Son In-hyu SAIT  researcher at said that the research has dramatically improved the capacity of lithium-ion batteries by applying a new synthesis method of high-crystalline graphene to a high-capacity silicon cathode. We will continue to improve the secondary cell technology to meet the expanding demand from mobile device and electric vehicle markets.

The lithium-ion battery was introduced in 1991 and its storage capacity has been gradually improved. But the material’s properties have limited improvements to capacity, failing to follow skyrocketing demand from the mobile and electric car industries.

SAIT said its researchers focused on graphene, a relatively new material that is physically strong and highly conductive, to solve this problem.

This material has up to four times the capacity compared with graphite and can double the energy density of ordinary lithium-ion batteries.

Patents covering the new technology have been applied for in Korea, China, Europe and the United States.

MIT slashes battery cost by half

lemon batteryMIT boffins have emerged from their smoke filled labs with an advanced manufacturing approach for lithium-ion batteries which promises to slash the cost while also improving their performance and making them easier to recycle.

The method will be marketed by a spinoff company called 24M which claims to have re-invented the process of making lithium-ion batteries.

Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Ceramics at MIT, and a co-founder of 24M said that the existing process has hardly changed in the two decades since the technology was invented, and is inefficient, with more steps and components than are really needed.

The new process is based on a concept developed five years ago by Chiang and colleagues including W. Craig Carter, the POSCO Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. In this so-called “flow battery,” the electrodes are suspensions of tiny particles carried by a liquid and pumped through various compartments of the battery.

The new battery design is a hybrid between flow batteries and conventional solid ones: In this version, while the electrode material does not flow, it is composed of a similar semisolid, colloidal suspension of particles. Chiang and Carter refer to this as a “semisolid battery.”

Chiang said that this approach greatly simplifies manufacturing, and also makes batteries that are flexible and resistant to damage.

We realized that a better way to make use of this flowable electrode technology was to reinvent the manufacturing process.”

Instead of the standard method of applying liquid coatings to a roll of backing material, and then having to wait for that material to dry before it can move to the next manufacturing step, the new process keeps the electrode material in a liquid state and requires no drying stage at all. Using fewer, thicker electrodes, the system reduces the conventional battery architecture’s number of distinct layers, as well as the amount of nonfunctional material in the structure, by 80 percent.

Having the electrode in the form of tiny suspended particles instead of consolidated slabs greatly reduces the path length for charged particles as they move through the material — a property known as “tortuosity.” A less tortuous path makes it possible to use thicker electrodes, which, in turn, simplifies production and lowers cost.

Basically this will cut battery costs by half, and create a battery that is more flexible and resilient. While conventional lithium-ion batteries are composed of brittle electrodes that can crack under stress, the new formulation produces battery cells that can be bent, folded or even penetrated by bullets without failing. This should improve both safety and durability, he says.

IBM pushes for lithium-air powered cars

IBM has announced that Asahi Kasei and Central Glass will be joining its Battery 500 Project team. The trio will cooperate to further research how to move on IBM’s work into switching from petrol to electricity – and making it the primary power source for cars.

IBM Research has been working on this project since 2009, when it announced that it was looking into how to develop lithium-air battery technology that would eventually be able to power a family-sized electric car for approximately 500 miles (800 km) on a single charge.

According to IBM, this switch is to be one of the most important technology shifts of the first half of the 21st century. However, it pointed out that more work was needed – claiming that  
currently, electric vehicles can only travel about 100 miles before needing to recharge using today’s lithium-ion batteries.

It said that this was a huge barrier when it came to the adoption of electric cars and a new battery technology was needed to push this on.  

However, the company needs to find a way to match power with lightness. It said for a car running on today’s lithium-ion batteries to match the range provided by a tank of gasoline, car manufacturers would need a very large battery which would weigh down the car and take up too much space.

This is because lithium-air batteries have higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries, due to their lighter cathodes and the fact that their primary “fuel” is the oxygen readily available in the atmosphere.

IBM said that to push electric cars into the mainstream, an energy density ten times greater than that of conventional lithium-ion batteries was needed.

Its new partnerships with Asahi Kasei and Central Glass is said to bring “decades of materials innovation for the automotive industry to the team,” which is hoped to grow the project’s scope.

Japanese chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei is said to bring its lithium battery membrane technology research into the mix, which IBM says will help create a critical component for lithium-air batteries.
Central Glass, manufacturer for electrolyte lithium-ion batteries, is said to use its chemical expertise in this field to create a new class of electrolytes and high-performance additives specifically designed to improve lithium-air batteries.

Lithium ion batteries get bendy with polymer gel

Scientists have developed a method for flexible lithium ion battery production that opens possibilities for batteries that can be bent into any manner of shaped device.

A method involving a novel polymer gel also means that lithium ion batteries can be created which are lower in cost, good news for laptops, mobile and tons of other devices.

The technology has been developed by Professor Ian Ward at the University of Leeds, and involves replacing the liquid electrolytes which are currently found in lithium battery cells.

Usually lithium ion battery cells are separated by a porous polymer film separator and liquid chemical filler.  This then allows the lithium ions to move between two electrodes, as well as stopping the electrodes from short-circuiting.

But with the development of the polymer gel the liquid electrolytes could be used instead.

As the gel can be made into a thin and flexible film this offers various benefits, such as allowing for a production process that is “fast, efficient and low cost”.

As well as the polymer gel removing the need for a separator, Professor Ward has patented the production process which holds the gel between a cathode and an anode.  This apparently creates a strip that is both highly conductive and merely a few nanometres thick.

Although the result looks like a solid film, the professor explains, it is actually mostly liquid electrolyte.  He likens it to the principle of making a jelly, but rather than hot water and gelatine it is a polymer and electrolyte mix.  Similarly the end result is solid but flexible.

The gel film can then be cut to any size, and due to the flexibility it can be bent to fit the geometry of many device designs.

LIthium-air batteries get nanofibre storage boost

Researchers at MIT have devised a method of high density lithium-air battery production that is “several times” more effective than conventional ones.

Lithium-air batteries have been in development for some time now and are being touted as a replacement for the lithium-ion ones currently found in many devices such as mobile phones.

For example IBM’s researchers have been looking towards the technology which can offer significantly more energy per pound than is currently possible.

And the MIT researchers have managed to create a lithium air battery that is able to cram even more energy into a smaller space.

Following work that has been conducted at MIT last year, the team has been looking into the ability to replace weighty solid electrodes in lithium-ion batteries with porous carbon electrodes.

These carbon electrodes have now been souped-up,  with the team looking towards carbon-fibre-based electrodes that are almost as porous as the average Premier League striker’s brain.

This means that it is possible to more efficiently store lithium oxide that fills the pores as the battery discharges.

According to the team the porous nanofibres were created with a chemical vapour deposition process, creating “carpet like arrays” which provide a “highly conductive, low-density scaffold for energy storage.”

The team was able to create such a material that was composed of “more than 90 percent void space” and minimise the amount of carbon weight in the electrodes.

This means an improvement on the team’s previous carbon electrodes, which were able to reach 70 percent void space.

The scientists now believe that the best route for increasing energy density is tuning the carbon structure. And this has meant that it is possible to produce an electrode which can store four times as much energy compared to current lithium ion batteries.

They also believe that orderly structure of the carbon carpets means that they are easily observed, offering hope for further improvements.

However the team has noted that it will still be necessary to take these developments from the lab and into a commercial product.

'Nanoscoop' Li-ion battery charges over 40 times faster

Scientists have developed a completely new nanomaterial that can offer recharge times for automotive batteries over 40 times faster than previously achievable, as well as opening up possibilities for th swift charging of mobile and laptop batteries.

The new generation of high power lithium (Li)-ion batteries, discovered by Professor Nikhil Koratkar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, are expected to provide extremely high charge and discharge rates that causes the current incarnation of the Li-ion batteries to deteriorate quickly before failing to work at all.

The technology used is the new nanomaterial, dubbed ‘nanoscoop’ due to its resemblance to a scoop of ice cream, featuring a unique material composition, structure and size.

The research team at Rensselaer has successfully demonstrated how a nanoscoop electrode can be charged and discharged between 40 and 60 times faster than that of a conventional battery, managing to maintain this performance over 100 continuous charge cycles, opening the door for new high power, high capacity Li-ion rechargeable batteries.

“Charging my laptop or cell phone in a few minutes, rather than an hour, sounds pretty good to me,” said Koratkar. “By using our nanoscoops as the anode architecture for Li-ion rechargeable batteries, this is a very real prospect. Moreover, this technology could potentially be ramped up to suit the demanding needs of batteries for electric automobiles.”

Electric cars currently use supercapacitors to perform power-intensive functions, including starting the vehicle and rapid acceleration, in conjunction with conventional batteries that deliver high energy density for normal cruise driving and other operations. The researchers believe that nanoscoops may now enable these two separate systems to be combined into a single, more efficient battery unit.

According to the team at Rensselaer, the reason that contemporary batteries take so long to charge is that they are purposefully programmed to do so.  This is because the anode structure of a Li-ion battery physically grows, with discharging having the opposite effect, causing an amount of stress that will cause the battery to fail if done too quickly.  

Nanoscoop technology effectively relieves the need to protect against battery failure by intentional slowing down the charging.

The nanomaterial is constructed to withstand such a build up of stress, made with a carbon nanorod base topped with a thin layer of nanoscale aluminum (Al) and a ‘scoop’ of nanoscale silicon (Si).  Being engineered in this manner means that the nanomaterial is able to accept and discharge Li-ions at extremely fast rates  without sustaining damage.

It is the segmented structure of the nanoscoop that allows the strain to be gradually transferred from the C base to the Al layer, and finally to the Si scoop. This natural strain gradation provides for a less abrupt transition in stress across the material interfaces, leading to improved structural integrity of the electrode. 

The minute scale of the structure also lends strength to the material. “Due to their nanoscale size, our nanoscoops can soak and release Li at high rates far more effectively than the macroscale anodes used in today’s Li-ion batteries,” said Koratkar. “This means our nanoscoop may be the solution to a critical problem facing auto companies and other battery manufacturers – how can you increase the power density of a battery while still keeping the energy density high?”

We shall all keep taking the tablets

I was wandering around Oxford last week and ducked into HMV to play with the delectable Apple iPad.  

The cheapest model is not such a delectable £429, with 16GB of memory, while even less delectable is the 64GB iPad at £599.  But they really are the loveliest toys in the world, provided you’ve got deep deep pockets and don’t need to get your house painted or anything mundane like that.

A friend of mine is particularly taken by the iPad “fish” application – damn sight easier than having your own pond at the bottom of the garden I guess, and with beautiful detail to boot.

I wandered outside the shop and wondered whether I could possibly buy the cheapest iPad – but decided against it. Reason had triumphed over desire, I could have bought one.  That’s because I’m pinning my hopes on other manufacturers bringing out affordable tablet machines based on the Android OS and actually having a lot more features than the Apple machine has.  I don’t care whether there’s an Apple logo on my machines, and I’m not rabidly anti-Mac – I’ve used Macs at many times over my rather lengthy tech career. Gizmos are such a responsibility.

Battery for electric bikeOne reason I didn’t splash out £429 is because I think that I would rapidly tire of my little toy and feel, perhaps in as little as a week or so, that it would be something I’d have to use, simply because it cost so much. That £429 is half the price I used for my favourite but scary gizmo of the moment, my electric bike.  Heck, look right at the lithium ion battery it uses – if this one ever explodes like the famous exploding Dell notebook battery in Japan – I really would get a fundamental surprise. It’s located just under the saddle. That’s a Crackberry on top of it so you can get an idea of the size.

There are other things militating against the iPad, or any other tablet for that matter. I’m not keen on devices without keyboards – there is something unsatisfying about a keyboard on a screen that doesn’t give back the satisfying feeling the keys do. And a notebook is, after all, designed so that you can set the screen at an angle, which is a much more satisfying way to type. For the same reason I never quite got on with those infra red keyboards that were around a few years ago, tapping your fingers on a table just doesn’t feel quite right. My desktop has one of those venerable IBM keyboards that really do make you feel like you’re some uber-typist in a virtual typing pool.

But I will buy a tablet to play with when the price is right. At the HMV shop the folks were also showing off a Galaxy Tab – and even though we’re promised larger screen sizes for those Samsung devices in perhaps a month or two, they seem to me to be even worse value for money than the Apple iPad.

In the next few months we’re going to have quite a range of devices at really very affordable prices, and until then I’ll just have to subdue my lust for the super expensive iPad and wait for them to come along.

Scientists will create lithium-ion battery for nano-scale devices

Scientists are trying to create some of the tiniest lithium-ion batteries on earth which will be no bigger than a grain of sand.

The research, funded by DARPA, aims to reduce the size of lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in electrical goods, so they can be used to power electronics and mechanical components of micro- to nano-scale devices.

Jane Chang, an engineer at the University of California, Los Angeles, is designing one component: the electrolyte that allows charge to flow between electrodes.

“We’re trying to achieve the same power densities, the same energy densities as traditional lithium ion batteries, but we need to make the footprint much smaller,” she said.

She is working with Bruce Dunn and other researchers at UCLA to coat micro-pillars or nano-wires, which have been designed to maximise the surface-to-volume ratio. This is the potential energy density coupled with electrolyte, the conductive material that allows current to flow in a battery.

Using atomic layer deposition, a slow but precise process which allows layers of material only an atom thick to be sprayed on a surface, Chung has successfully applied the solid electrolyte lithium aluminosilicate to nanomaterials.

Researchers say a solid electrolyte lithium aluminosilicate (LiAlSiO4) is a promising candidate due to high ionic conductivity along its c-axis – resulting from channels formed by the alternating tetrahedra of aluminum-oxygen (Al-O) and silicon-oxygen (Si-O). They said the length of c-axis of lithium aluminosilicate can be adjusted by changing the crystallisation temperature for desired conductivity characteristics.

The research, presented yesterday, is still in very early stages.

Hitachi, Johnson Controls partner for advanced green batteries

Hitachi and Johnson Controls have announced a partnership aimed at creating advanced energy storage for hybrid and electric vehicles to comply with green standards.

The deal will see the two companies working closely to develop advanced batteries which can be both competitive in pricing and energy provision. The development of next-generation batteries could please environmentalists who want to see lower power consumption and less emissions from  petrol-using cars.

Both companies will focus efforts on research and development of motive and non-motive advanced energy storage, including Lithium-ion batteries. They have also vowed to work together on procurement, production, marketing, sales, and standardisation of the technology they invent or discover.

While not limiting themselves to any one sector for the battery technology involved in the partnership, both Hitachi and Johnson Controls have been strong players in the automotive battery industry, suggesting that this is likely to be a key focal point for their efforts.

The companies revealed that if any major contracts with car manufacturers are signed they will work jointly on the production of the required batteries. Hitachi CEO of battery systems, Yoshito Tsunoda, suggested advances in clean battery technology and efficient energy storage must happen for sustainable, global economic growth.

HP extends worldwide warning for laptop batteries

HP has extended a worldwide recall programme for batteries, which it fears could cause laptops to overheat and potentially pose as a fire hazard.

The company has added new battery models to its original laptop recall programme, which it issued on the CPSC website in May last year. According to HP the lithium-ion batteries are being used in more than 30 models worldwide in brands including Compaq Presario, Pavilion, HP and HP Compaq. The battery packs may have shipped in laptops manufactured between August 2007 and May 2008. But HP assumes said that “less than three percent” of the laptops contained the affected battery packs.

In a statement about the HP batteries, the CPSC advised people concerned that if they had a faulty battery to immediately remove the recalled battery from their notebook computer and contact HP to determine if their battery is included in the recall and to request a free replacement battery.

“After removing the recalled battery from their notebook computer, consumers may use the AC adapter to power the computer until a replacement battery arrives. Consumers should only use batteries obtained from HP or an authorised reseller,” it said.

Exploding Batteries - this is Dell

It said it was aware of two incidents where batteries had combusted but no injuries had been incurred.
 HP said users can see whether the battery is a danger and applies for free replacement by logging onto its site and typing in the code located at the top of the service label on the bottom of the notebook.

This isn’t the first time tech has gone up in flames. Dell has had major problems with exploding laptops due to lithium-ion batteries in the past too. However it seems this burning question could soon be solved with  scientists at Cambridge University claiming to have developed a simple, accurate way of monitoring what’s going on inside one of these, which could go someway to preventing this.