New Research Offers Improved Lithium Ion Batteries
The humble battery. Where would modern technology be without it? We’d have no courtroom battles over cell phone design, and kids might have to read a book during long trips rather than playing with some mobile gaming platform. More seriously, though, batteries power so many devices we rely on every day that any improvement to the technology can have far-reaching effects.
We’ve spent a fair amount of time covering battery breakthroughs here at Engineering on the Edge, and today we’ll delve into the subject again. Washington State University (WSU) researchers claim to have discovered a method of manufacturing lithium ion batteries that will triple charge capacity.
The current version of lithium ion batteries you can find in stores uses a carbon-based anode electrode. This limits how much energy can be stored based on the properties of carbon. During the 1990s, Stanford researchers postulated that tin could be used to increase the capacity of batteries, but no one had managed to maintain the stability of tin used in this fashion. Low stability meant short battery life.
A team at WSU, led by engineering professor, Dr. M. Grant Norton, claims to have discovered a method of creating stable tin-based anode electrode batteries using electroplating. According to Norton, the new manufacturing method could be put into production almost immediately, without requiring a major retooling effort by battery manufacturers.
“In terms of game-changing, we’re not going to go from something that lasts 10 hours to 100 hours, but we might go from something that lasts 10 hours to something that lasts 30 hours,” said Norton. “I think that’s an important improvement. It may not be a game-changer where it goes from 10 to 100 hours, but I think we would see significant improvements. And because the costs have come down as well it could open up additional markets for lithium ion batteries.”
Below you’ll find a video about how lithium batteries are made.