Published on June 7th, 2011 | by Nicholas Brown1
Li-ion Flow Batteries Refill Quickly and Easily, Could Cut Cost of Li-ion Batteries in Half!
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has constructed a type of lithium-ion cell which is radically different from traditional designs. (Just in case you were wondering, a cell is a small battery, but ‘battery’ is also sometimes used to refer to a pack of cells, like a laptop battery for example, which can contain upwards of 6 cells).
It said that the new battery is lightweight, inexpensive, and refills as quickly and easily as a gas tank can be filled. It also said that it is so inexpensive that it has the potential to reduce the cost of lithium ion batteries to half of the current cost. The battery’s ability to refill quickly is due to the fact that it is a semi-solid flow battery. This type of battery consists of an anode and cathode that are literally suspended in a liquid electrolyte. An anode is a negatively charged electrode, and a cathode a positively charged one.
A traditional lithium ion battery operates like this:
Charging: The battery is supplied with an electric current which facilitates the transfer of lithium ions from the cathode to the anode.
Discharging — basically, drawing power from the battery: This is the opposite of charging. This entails the transfer of lithium ions from the anode and back to the cathode. This process generates electricity.
Yury Gogotsi, a Drexel University professor said that making a practical and commercial version of that battery will require research to find better cathode and anode materials and electrolytes, but adds, “I don’t see fundamental problems that cannot be addressed — those are primarily engineering issues. Of course, developing working systems that can compete with currently available batteries in terms of cost and performance may take years.”
Yury is simply reminding you that technologies don’t start out perfect. They normally require additional work before they can be commercialized, but this is a step in the right direction. Even if this technology does not turn out to be as practical as claimed, the discovery means that researchers have learned something new about lithium ion batteries and it may just and probably will help them to develop other technologies. Knowledge is a very powerful tool.
This new technology is being licensed to 24M Technologies which was actually co-founded by an MIT professor who claimed that he discovered how to reduce the cost of lithium ion batteries by 85% for use in electric vehicles and for power plant energy storage.
Source, Photos & Captions: MIT News Office
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