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Lithium Borohydride Battery — Whole New Generation Of Solid-State Batteries Possible Thanks To New Research

Researchers have finally worked out how to utilize rock salt Lithium Borohydride (LiBH4) as a battery material at normal atmospheric pressure and room temperature, according to recent reports. Specifically, they’ve discovered how to use the well-known material as lithium ion conductor.

This image shows synthesis of cubic LiBH4 at ambient pressure and Parasitic Conduction Mechanism exhibited in KI - LiBH4 solid solution. Image Credit: Hitoshi Takamura/Tohoku University

This image shows synthesis of cubic LiBH4 at ambient pressure and Parasitic Conduction Mechanism exhibited in KI – LiBH4 solid solution. Image Credit: Hitoshi Takamura/Tohoku University

The advance — which could lead to a whole new generation of effective solid-state batteries — was achieved by researchers from Tohoku University in Japan. Solid-state batteries don’t pose nearly the same fire risk that those containing liquids do. Previously LiBH4 had only worked at high temperatures and pressures.

The achievement was made via the doping of a cubic lattice of KI molecules with the LiBH4 — allowing for the stabilization of the high-pressure form of Lithium borohydride. This resulted in the creation of a solid solution at normal atmospheric pressure that was stable at room temperature.

The press release provides more:

In making the new technology, the team made the peculiar discovery that the Li+ ions functioned like pure Li+ ion conductors, even though they were just doping the KI lattices. This is the reverse of the normal doping technique, in which a small amount of stabilizing element would be added to an ionic conductor abundant in Lithium.

“In other words, LiBH4 is a sort of ‘parasite’ but not a host material,” explained lead researcher Hitoshi Takamura. “(We’ve termed) this mechanism ‘parasitic conduction’ and have suggested that it could be broadly applied in the search for new batteries — anywhere that small amounts of Li+ ions could be used to dope an oxide, sulfide, halide or nitride host material.”

“This work suggests the potential of this mechanism in the ongoing search for the perfect material for use in solid state batteries,” Takamura continued. “The urgency of this quest has been abundantly clear after the grounding of so many aircraft in recent months.”

The new findings have been detailed in a paper just published in the journal APL Materials.

On the ever-present topic of advancing battery technology (or perhaps that’s just the pitch?), we just recently covered a related and interesting development. University of California–Riverside researchers have created of a new type of battery anode with 3 times the storage capacity of the carbon-based anodes currently in wide-use. The “hook” of the story is that it’s made out of “silly putty.” You know, that stuff that kids in the 80s and 90s used to play with — before iPads. 🙂

Battery research moves on.

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Written By

James Ayre'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.


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