Technology 3 min read

New Design Could Lead to Cheaper Lithium-ion Battery Production

Olivier Le Moal /

Olivier Le Moal /

The popularity of the Lithium-ion battery is not surprising. It has a higher energy density, lower self-discharge, and requires little maintenance.

Furthermore, several types of lithium-ion cell are available in the market for various applications. Whether we’re trying to power a smartphone, tablet or a smartwatch, there’s a li-ion cell for it.

There’s just one problem.

The growing demand for this form of battery has placed a strain on the world’s supply of two metals essential to the battery design – nickel and cobalt. As a result, the prices of these metals have increased significantly over the years.

But, a new alternative has been discovered by researchers.

Thanks to the scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, we may no longer have to depend on nickel and cobalt to create lithium-ion batteries soon. The researchers have developed an alternative design that replaces these expensive metals with low-cost transition metal fluorides and a solid polymer electrolyte.

A New Lithium-ion Battery Design

The transfer of lithium ions between electrodes in a lithium-ion battery leads to a release in energy. In such a battery, the cathode material consists of lithium and a transition metal such as nickel, cobalt, or manganese.

But for the new design, the researchers used a new form of the cathode from iron fluoride active material, including a solid polymer electrolyte nano-composite.

The benefit of using an iron fluoride electrode is obvious.

Aside from doubling the lithium-ion capacity of traditional cobalt or nickel-based electrodes, iron is cost-effective. It’s 150 times cheaper than nickel and 300 times less expensive than cobalt.

In a statement, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, Gleb Yushin said:

“Cathodes made from iron fluoride have enormous potential because of their high capacity, low material costs and the vast availability of iron.”

With all the advantages iron fluoride offers in li-ion batteries, why was it used in limited quantity in the past?

According to the researcher, these batteries experienced volume changes during cycling. Also, the cells suffered from parasitic side reactions with liquid electrolytes as well as other degradation issues.

However, the Georgia Tech team were able to solve these issues using solid electrolyte with elastic properties.

Research scientist in Yushin’s lab and a co-author of the study, Kostiantyn Turcheniuk noted:

“The polymer electrolyte we used was very common, but many other solid electrolytes and other battery or electrode architectures should be able to similarly mitigate or even fully prevent parasitic side reactions and attain stable performance characteristics.”

In the future, the researchers intend to develop solid electrolyte to enable fast charging. They also aim to combine liquid and solid electrolytes in new designs that are compatible with conventional cell manufacturing technologies.

Read More: Energy Breakthrough: Researchers Develop Lithium Sulphur Batteries

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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