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!
Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power
14.12.2018 | Purdue University
Studying how unconventional metals behave, with an eye on high-temperature superconductors
13.12.2018 | Princeton University
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy