Published on October 31st, 2013 | by James Ayre


New Electrode Made From Iron Oxide Nanoparticles Boosts Battery Capacity

October 31st, 2013 by  

An inexpensive, new electrode made from iron oxide nanoparticles has the potential to notably extend the potential range of electric vehicles, according to the researchers that developed it.

Along with being inexpensive, and capable of storing higher charge densities than the conventional electrodes used in lithium-ion batteries, the new electrode is also well suited for large-scale manufacturing.

iron oxide nevada

Valley of Fire in southern Nevada, USA. Red in the rocks caused by iron oxides.
Image Credit: Shutterstock

The iron oxide nanoparticles in question replace the graphite that is usually used as the anode — iron oxides have a considerably higher charging capacity than graphite, but are somewhat slower to charge. And there is also the issue of the lithium ions that migrate into the material damaging the anode after only a few charging cycles. The new anode addresses both of these issues.

The A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering has more:

The researchers made 5-nanometer-wide particles of an iron oxide known as α-Fe2O3, simply by heating iron nitrate in water. They mixed the particles with a dust called carbon black, bound them together with polyvinylidene fluoride and coated the mixture onto copper foil to make their anodes.

During the first round of charging and discharging, the anodes showed an efficiency of 75-78%, depending on the current density used. After ten more cycles, however, the efficiency improved to 98%, almost as high as commercial lithium-ion batteries. Research by other teams suggests that during the first few cycles, the iron oxide nanoparticles are broken down until they reach an optimum size.

After 230 cycles the anode’s efficiency remained at 97%, with a capacity of 1,009 milliamp hours per gram (mA h g−1 ) — almost three times greater than commercial graphite anodes. The material experienced none of the degradation problems that have plagued other iron oxide anodes.

The researchers are now focusing on optimizing the nanoparticle synthesis, and also on increasing the efficiency of the anode’s first few charging cycles.

The new anode was developed by Zhaolin Liu of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, Singapore, and Aishui Yu of Fudan University, China — along with others.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Wayne Williamson

    Interesting, several years ago there was an article out of MIT using iron and lithium…Like I said back then, they are good at discovering but very bad at actually producing…

  • Charles

    “1,009 milliamp hours per gram”

    Without knowing the voltage this tells little about the energy density of the battery.

    • Without knowing the other components of the battery, this tells nothing… This story is only about the anode.

  • JamesWimberley

    Look where this is coming from: Singapore and China. American science and technology is impressive, but Americans often get the false impression that it’s the only game in town.

    • brink

      James, you are correct and Americans as I am experiencing would not know how to translate that into a viable profit generating business anyway. the problem with the grid battery business is not so much cost or technology but lack of knowledge of how those markets work and technical expertise on the manufacturing side. most of those guys are not interested in moving sales but are arrogant and think they have the next great thing. i am on the services side and i cant get a battery system to purchase or lease due to their ignorance nobody seems to have their act together “not ready for prime”. missing deadline for quotes not being able to get a supply contract signed for 6-9 months. not wanting to sell you a battery but wanting you to sell for them . why does it matter who the client is? just sell,

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