New research has revealed what may be one of the primary limiting factors in the lifespan of the battery type typically used in electric and hybrid vehicles.
It was discovered that, as the batteries are used, they slowly lose lithium, as it accumulates outside the battery electrodes. This happens primarily in the ‘current collector,’ which is the sheet of copper that improves the efficiency of electron transfer between the electrodes and the electrical system.
“This knowledge could aid in improving design and performance of batteries,” explained Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
“Our study shows that the copper current collector plays a role in the performance of the battery,” he said.
“We didn’t set out to find lithium in the current collector, so you could say we accidentally discovered it, and how it got there is a bit of a mystery. As far as we know, nobody has ever expected active lithium to migrate inside the current collector,” Bhushan said.
The researchers had been working to determine what could be done to improve battery performance, though they seem to have gotten quite lucky in finding what they found. The discovery could potentially lead to better performing batteries, which would give a big boost to electric vehicles. The researchers are hoping that battery producers further investigate their findings. The researchers themselves plan to next study the impedance of lithium-ion batteries on the nanoscale.
The new research was just published in the journal Scripta Materialia.
Source: Ohio State University
Image Credits: CSIRO Australia
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