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Progress For Silicon Anodes In Lithium Ion Batteries

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 0:07
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(Before It's News)

A Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) team of researchers claims to have made yet another step towards finding a solution to accelerate the commercialization of silicon anode for lithium-ion batteries.

A new approach developed by a team of researchers, led by Prof. Jaephil Cho (School of Energy and Chemical Engineering) could hold the key to greatly improving the performance of commercial lithium-ion batteries.

Prof. Cho and his research team have developed a new type anode material that would be used in place of a conventional graphite anode, which they claim will lead to lighter and longer-lasting batteries for everything from personal devices to electric vehicles.

Image Credit: Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology. Click image for the largest view here. See the full image inside the Nature Energy article.

Image Credit: Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology. Click image for the largest view here. See the full image inside the Nature Energy article link below.

Over the course of the study, the research team demonstrated the feasibility of a next-generation hybrid anode using silicon-nanolayer-embedded graphite/carbon. They report that this architecture allows compatibility between silicon and natural graphite and addresses the issues of severe side reactions caused by structural failure of crumbled graphite dust and uncombined residue of silicon particles by conventional mechanical milling.

The newly-developed anode material has been manufactured with an increase in graphite content in the composite by 45%. The research team has also developed new equipment, which is capable of producing 300kg in 6 hours per batch using a small amount of silane gas (SiH4). Such simple procedure is expected to ensure a competitive price.

The team reports that the silicon/graphite composite is mass-producible and it has superior battery performances with industrial electrode density, high areal capacity, and low amounts of binder.

The findings of the research have been published in the August issue of the energy journal Nature Energy.

The work has been supported by the IT R&D program of the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE) and Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology (KEIT), 2016 Research Fund of UNIST, and by the Office of Vehicle Technologies, Battery Materials Research Program of the US Department of Energy.

With the certain cell phone battery catching fire, lithium ion is back in the news. While the anode material discussion above isn’t mentioning heat generation one suspects that is very high, if not the top of the list, for device manufacturers. It will be interesting to see if the team follows on with some heat production testing.

With lithium ion technology so widespread now it isn’t a big surprise a model is self igniting. Its been quite some time since the batteries in Boeing’s Dreamliner lit off, and that got solved in pretty short order. One wonders if perhaps manufacturers might want to do more battery testing before shipping millions of them and risking billions of revenue dollars and perhaps, the whole firm.

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