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Lithium-Ion Battery Lifespan Explained

Investigating lithium-ion battery degradation at Brookhaven National Laboratory
Investigating lithium-ion battery degradation at Brookhaven National Laboratory

The lithium-ion battery, like other rechargeable battery types, only has a few hundred cycles in it before its performance begins to degrade, although exactly “why” has been elusive.

Actually, rechargeable battery degradation is the anti-EV cult’s main point, that the production and recycling of a lithium-ion battery could be worse than the emissions generated by conventional vehicles. Studies have shown that EVs are not environmental abominations, but this doesn’t mean that the rechargeable battery isn’t without its faults. After all, what does one do with a battery, such as those found in electric and hybrid vehicles, once it’s degraded to the point of uselessness?

Researchers at the US DOE (Department of Energy) Brookhaven National Laboratory have announced the results of some pretty ground-breaking research into the chemistry in a lithium-ion battery, specifically at the molecular level while charging and discharging. Their research, once a fix is found, could revolutionize future lithium-ion battery applications in terms of longevity and durability.

What the researchers discovered was that, while charging, lithium ions moving across the cathode propagate a kind of crystalline crust. Of course, this is on a molecular level, but over time, this non-conductive crystal inhibits a lithium-ion battery’s ability to charge. On the other hand, while discharging, it was found that the lithium ions degraded the nickel-oxide anode non-uniformly, attacking nanoscale imperfections. The resulting metallic nickel reduces the lithium-ion battery’s ability to deliver power, again only gradually, because of the nanoscale size of the imperfections.

Research now, of course, is bent on figuring out what materials or manufacturing techniques can counteract these two lithium-ion battery degrading molecular processes.

Images © Brookhaven National Laboratory

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