Batteries that power electric cars have problems. They take a long time to charge. The charge doesn’t hold long enough to drive long distances. They don’t allow drivers to quickly accelerate. They are big and bulky.
Lithium iron phosphate battery created in Kisailus lab.
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have redesigned the component materials of the battery in an environmentally friendly way to solve some of these problems. By creating nanoparticles with a controlled shape, they believe smaller, more powerful and energy efficient batteries can be built. By modifying the size and shape of battery components, they aim to reduce charge times as well.
“This is a critical, fundamental step in improving the efficiency of these batteries,” said David Kisailus, an associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering and lead researcher on the project.
In addition to electric cars, the redesigned batteries could be used for municipal energy storage, including energy generated by the sun and wind.
The initial findings are outlined in a just published paper called “Solvothermal Synthesis, Development and Performance of LiFePO4 Nanostructures” in the journal Crystal Growth & Design.
Kisailus, who is also the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation, and Jianxin Zhu, a Ph.D. student working with Kisailus, were the lead authors of the paper. Other authors were: Joseph Fiore, Dongsheng Li, Nichola Kinsinger and Qianqian Wang, all of whom formerly worked with Kisailus; Elaine DiMasi, of Brookhaven National Laboratory; and Juchen Guo, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at UC Riverside.
The researchers in Kisailus’ Biomimetics and Nanostructured Materials Lab set out to improve the efficiency of Lithium-ion batteries by targeting one of the material components of the battery, the cathode.
Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), one type of cathode, has been used in electric vehicles because of its low cost, low toxicity and thermal and chemical stability. However, its commercial potential is limited because it has poor electronic conductivity and lithium ions are not very mobile within it.
Several synthetic methods have been utilized to overcome these deficiencies by controlling particle growth. Here, Kisailus and his team used a solvothermal synthetic method, essentially placing reactants into a container and heating them up under pressure, like a pressure cooker.
Kisailus, Zhu and their team used a mixture of solvents to control the size, shape and crystallinity of the particles and then carefully monitored how the lithium iron phosphate was formed. By doing this, they were able to determine the relationship between the nanostructures they formed and their performance in batteries.
By controlling the size of nanocrystals, which were typically 5,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, within shape-controlled particles of LiFePO4, Kisailus’ team has shown that batteries with more power on demand may be generated.
These size and shape modulated particles offer a higher fraction of insertion points and reduced pathlengths for Li-ion transport, thus improving battery rates. Kisailus and his team are currently refining this process to not only further improve performance and reduce cost, but also implement scalability.
The research was sponsored by the Winston Chung Global Energy Center, which is named after Winston Chung, a Chinese battery inventor who has provided more than $16 million in support to the campus in recent years for clean energy research.
Media ContactSean Nealon
Sean Nealon | EurekAlert!
Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH
To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences