Redesigning Batteries for Longer Lifespans
As advanced as batteries have become, they are still comprised of three primary components; the anode, cathode, and electrolyte. By changing the composition and designs of these components over the years, batteries have been better at storing and delivering energy. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have recently decided to investigate changing the formula for batteries and what happens if these components interact in new ways.
In a typical battery, the anode and cathode are responsible for specific electrochemical reactions that create an electrical potential, while the electrolyte allows for ions to flow between them, and actually create an electrical current. Normally these roles are restricted to those specific components, but the ORNL researchers have developed a battery in which the electrolyte has two functions. Instead of just transporting ions, it will also behave as a cathode supplement. As the reactions occur and the battery discharges, a lithium fluoride salt is produced that catalyzes the activity of the electrolyte, making it active in the process, instead of just a passive material.
When the researchers tested their concept with a modified lithium carbon fluoride battery, it had 26% greater capacity than its more traditional counterpart can theoretically achieve. Such an increase in capacity could extend the life of batteries by years or decades. For long-life disposable batteries, like those in pacemakers, RFID devices, sensors, and other systems where batteries cannot be easily replaced or recharged, that extra life could be invaluable.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory