Scientists and engineers have been trying to improve the capacity and extend the life-span of conventional batteries ever since their initial creation. We often read about various improvements and innovations that suggest a modification of either one of the three components, the anode, the cathode or the electrolyte, but still maintaining their initial and very independent function in the system.
Now, a team from the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is taking a slightly different direction, claiming that they can greatly prolong the life of a conventional energy storage device. According to them, the secret is in a dual functioning electrolyte, which conducts ions as a normal electrolyte, but also helps the cathode to do its job too.
In order to test their theory, the team decided to use the lithium carbon fluoride battery for their experiment. These are known to be very stable and have long life and high density, but the team was convinced that they can make this even better. The innovation that the guys introduced is the so-called solid lithium thiophosphate electrolyte. The findings indicate that this new electrolyte actually worked as a supplement to the cathode and it improved the capacity by the incredible 26%.
The study that was just published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society describes in detail how this new technology works. In short, the boost in battery capacity occurs due to a generation of a lithium fluoride salt during the discharge process. This ultimately means that the electrolyte takes an active role in the storing of energy, something that has not been tried before.
The authors are convinced that this discovery could prolong the life of the batteries with years, if not decades. This will make them extremely useful in powering devices such as pacemakers and remote sensors. The idea is definitely a good one, now let’s see if it could hit the market soon.
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