Lithium air batteries have been touted as a more effective alternative to convetnional batteries in powering electric vehicles (EVs) since they are smaller and have a higher enegry output related to their size.
Yet, these batteries also display some major flaws including massive energy loss as heat and quick degradation. Additionally, they require expensive equipment to keep them running.
A group of engineers, however, has presented a new battery concept that could help fix all these flaws by not making any compromises on performance, at least in theory. Plus,the new battery is a sealed system while the lithium air one has an open-cell structure.
The new energy storage device was dubbed a nanolithia cathode battery by MIT and Chinese engineers.
Ju Li of the MIT’s of Nuclear Science and Engineering Department explained that lithium air batteries’ flaws are linked to a lack of correlation between the energy input and output when batteries charge and discharge. For instance, the batteries release over 1.2 volts when they discharge which does not match the voltage used when they charge.
As a result, the cells lose a lot of power between charging cycles, Prof. Li said. He added that turning 30 percent of power into heat when charging could lead to serious battery damage if the battery is charged too quickly.
Lithium-air batteries grab oxygen molecules form the atmosphere and use them into a chemical mechanism in the discharging cycle. The oxygen interacts with lithium during discharging and it gets released outside during charging.
The new battery concept is based on the same chemical reactions between the two types of molecules, but oxygen is no longer allowed to escape the battery in its original form. As oxygen remains trapped in a solid state within the battery, the new battery prevents power loss as heat by a factor of five, researcher wrote in a paper. In other words, the new battery loses just 8 percent of energy as heat.
Li concluded that the new batteries will allow cars to charge faster without the risk of explosion. Furthermore, the new system is considerably more energy efficient than the previous one.
The team also noted that the new battery concept is also immune to overcharging effects such as explosions or irreparable damage. Its inner mechanisms prevents it from ever overcharging by halting dangerous chemical reactions in due time.
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