One of the most-cited concerns about all-electric cars — battery capacity — will soon become moot thanks to a new nanomaterial capable of tripling the capacity and extending the service life of lithium-ion batteries, according to a new study published in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds.
The inherent limits of graphite in all-electric batteries
The researchers synthesized a new nanomaterial able to replace low-efficiency graphite — which is used in lithium-ion batteries today. Lithium-ion batteries are found in common household appliances — from smartphones to electric vehicles. They charge and discharge via the movement of lithium ions from one negatively charged anode to a positively charged cathode.
And while the global scope of applications for lithium-ion batteries is expanding, scientists are concerned about the limits of this technology due to its properties of graphite, which is the main anode material. To overcome graphite's inherent limits, scientists from the National University of Science and Technology "MISIS" (NUST MISIS) procured a new material for anodes capable of drastically increasing the capacity and extending the service life of all-electric batteries.
"Porous nanostructured microspheres with the composition Cu0.4Zn0.6Fe2O4, that we have extracted, used as anode material provide three times higher capacity than the batteries existing on market," said an assistant named Evgeny Kolesnikov of NUST MISIS' department of functional nanosystems and high-temperature materials, according to a blog post shared on MISIS' website.
"Besides, it allows to increase the number of charge-discharge cycles by 5 times compared to other promising alternatives to graphite," added Kolesnikov in the blog post. "This improvement is achieved due to a synergistic effect with a combination of a special nanostructure and the composition of used elements."
Applied scientific advancements can soften all-electric skeptics
The final material was synthesized via a one-step process — with no intermediate stages, thanks to the spray-pyrolysis method. According to the scientists, an aqueous solution containing ions of special metals is converted into fog using ultrasound, with water subsequently evaporated at temperatures reaching 2,192°F (1,200°C) as the original metal salts decompose.
The output is micron or submicron spheres with the specific porosity needed to function in a lithium-ion system — which is extracted from the solution.
Further electrochemical studies of the new nanomaterial synthesized by NUST MISIS were executed by scientists of Seoul National University of Science and Technology, the SRM Institute of Science and Technology (in India), and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Like it or not, we're entering an all-electric revolution — with heavy-hitting newcomers like Tesla leading the way as GM, Audi, and many other brands working to move away from fossil fuel vehicles in the next 10 to 30 years. But, while smartphones and other common electronics will phase out old batteries with fewer bumps, scientists will need to find crucial advancements like this new nanomaterial to soften concerns EV skeptics have about the next generation of personal vehicles.
This was a breaking story and was regularly updated as new information became available.