Supercomputers funded by the National Science Foundation are being used to develop more reliable and efficient electric vehicles and other products by focusing on the batteries that power them.
January Snapshots: CO2 removal, water-splitting, battery mystery, thirdhand smoke remediation
Columbia Engineering researchers have found that alkali metal additives, such as potassium ions, can prevent lithium microstructure proliferation during battery use. They used a combination of microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, and computational modeling to discover that adding small amounts of potassium salt to a conventional lithium battery electrolyte produces unique chemistry at the lithium/electrolyte interface, and modulates degradation during battery operation, preventing the growth of microstructures and leading to safer, longer lasting batteries.
Lithium dendrites cause poor performance and even explosions in batteries with flammable liquid electrolytes. How these dendrites grow, even with a solid electrolytes, is still a mystery, but materials engineers at MTU and Oak Ridge study the conditions that enable dendrites and how to stop them.
Lithium ion batteries often grow needle-like structures between electrodes that can short out the batteries and sometimes cause fires. Now, an international team of researchers has found a way to grow and observe these structures to understand ways to stop or prevent their appearance.
With its deep expertise in materials research, materials design, and energy storage
technologies, Berkeley Lab is working on better battery alternatives. Gerbrand Ceder, a battery researcher in the Materials Science Division, details four battery echnologies being studied by Berkeley Lab scientists that could make a big difference in the future.
Scientists have uncovered a root cause of the growth of needle-like structures—known as dendrites and whiskers—that plague lithium batteries, sometimes causing a short circuit or failure. The defects are a major factor holding back the batteries from broader widespread use and further improvement.
Scientists used chemically sensitive X-ray microscopy to map lithium transport during battery operation.