A lithium metal battery (LMB) is only as good as its weakest anode. Too bad, because lithium anodes are holding back an electric vehicle and portable device revolution powered by LMBs, which pack 10 times the theoretical charge of today’s best lithium ion batteries. Today’s LIBs can’t keep up with market demand for battery performance; LMBs are the future. Here’s the problem. As cycles of charges rebound from the battery’s cathode on one end to the lithium anode on the other, the lithium metal anode surface quickly roughens up and forms lithium whiskers called dendrites. The battery’s performance plummets, and dangerous reactions with the electrolyte part of the battery occur.
From power grid applications to hybrid and electric vehicles to consumer electronic devices, the demand for improvements in energy storage performance, efficiency and price has continued to outpace technological innovation and what the market is able to provide. There are several critical factors in rechargeable battery design and performance, but energy density has been the key limiting factor for enabling portable devices and plug-in electric vehicles.
Lithium ion batteries (LIB) now play the central role in addressing these energy storage needs. However, LIB energy densities will soon reach their practical limit and are struggling to keep up with consumer expectations and market demand. Lithium metal batteries (LMBs) have long been recognized as a desirable alternative to traditional lithium ion batteries (LIBs). While LIBs typically rely on intercalation of lithium ions to/from a graphite anode, LMBs utilize lithium metal for the anode itself.
This allows for a tenfold increase the density of the density of the anode, which can substantially increase the operating time of portable electronic devices and, critically, the driving range of plug-in electric vehicles.
Unfortunately, LMBs face two major technical challenges that must be overcome before they can be safely commercialized:
● Lithium dendrites, and
● Unwanted anode reactions.
During the charge/discharge cycles, dendrites – whiskers of lithium that grow inside batteries – reduce anode performance until the dendrites eventually reach the cathode resulting in catastrophic failure. In addition, unwanted reactions between the lithium metal anode with the electrolyte lead to consumption of electrolyte and continuous erosion of system performance. Further related challenges include reducing the formation of dead lithium, controlling anode volume expansion, and otherwise maximizing coulombic efficiency and lifespan
Xinova is seeking solutions to this problem that focus on:
This opportunity comes from the efforts of Xinova’s R&D Consulting and Innovation team.
Are you up for the challenge?
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Xinova Japan GK
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