Rechargeable battery technology has a lot of demands to meet, but a recent development more than doubles current capacities.
To be considered acceptable for today’s mobile devices, whether they be smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles, or grid backup, a rechargeable battery needs to cover three basics. A good rechargeable battery has to be energy dense, be cycled hundreds of times, and cycle quickly. Wildcat Discovery Technologies, a San Diego startup, has been developing and testing rechargeable battery components, in hopes that they can increase one or more of these three main traits of an energy storage device.
Some metal-oxide electrodes have excellent energy storage capacity and can cycle many times, but not very quickly. This leaves them out of the running for high-power applications, such as electric vehicles. The addition of carbon could help to increase conductivity in these electrodes, but the high temperatures required result in the destruction of the electrode itself. Wildcat’s new coating process, originally developed for carbon fluoride batteries, uses copper fluoride electrodes coated in carbon.
Used as a cathode, with a silicon anode opposite, the resulting rechargeable battery cycles at least as well as the leading lithium-ion NMC (lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide) battery, but with far better capacity. In testing, Wildcat compared their new rechargeable battery to the industry-standard Panasonic 18650, which holds up to 700 Wh/ℓ (watt-hours per liter). The copper fluoride silicon rechargeable battery holds up to 1,600 Wh/ℓ or about 250% of the Panasonic 18650.
Production is still future, but the technology looks promising. Improving on rechargeable battery technology will have an impact in many areas. Better batteries improve the range of electric vehicles, for example. Rechargeable battery packs can also be used to smooth out intermittent renewable energy, as well as keep the lights on in remote areas.
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