Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > A step toward lighter batteries

Doctoral student Yi-Chun Lu holds an experimental lithium-air battery that was used for testing at MIT.  Photo: Patrick Gillooly
Doctoral student Yi-Chun Lu holds an experimental lithium-air battery that was used for testing at MIT. Photo: Patrick Gillooly

Abstract:
Research shows metal catalysts play important role in improving the efficiency of lithium-oxygen batteries.

By David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

A step toward lighter batteries

Cambridge, MA | Posted on April 2nd, 2010

Lightweight batteries that can deliver lots of energy are crucial for a variety of applications — for example, improving the range of electric cars. For that reason, even modest increases in a battery's energy-density rating — a measure of the amount of energy that can be delivered for a given weight — are important advances. Now a team of researchers at MIT has made significant progress on a technology that could lead to batteries with up to three times the energy density of any battery that currently exists.

Yang Shao-Horn, an MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering, says that many groups have been pursuing work on lithium-air batteries, a technology that has great potential for achieving great gains in energy density. But there has been a lack of understanding of what kinds of electrode materials could promote the electrochemical reactions that take place in these batteries.

Lithium-oxygen (also known as lithium-air) batteries are similar in principle to the lithium-ion batteries that now dominate the field of portable electronics and are a leading contender for electric vehicles. But because lithium-air batteries use lightweight porous carbon electrodes and oxygen drawn from a flow of air to take the place of heavy solid compounds used in lithium-ion batteries, the batteries themselves can be much lighter. That's why leading companies, including IBM and General Motors, have committed to major research initiatives on lithium-air technology.

In a paper published this week in the journal Electrochemical and Solid-State Letters, Shao-Horn, along with some of her students and visiting professor Hubert Gasteiger, reported on a study showing that electrodes with gold or platinum as a catalyst show a much higher level of activity and thus a higher efficiency than simple carbon electrodes in these batteries. In addition, this new work sets the stage for further research that could lead to even better electrode materials, perhaps alloys of gold and platinum or other metals, or metallic oxides, and to less expensive alternatives.

Doctoral student Yi-Chun Lu, lead author of the paper, explains that this team has developed a method for analyzing the activity of different catalysts in the batteries, and now they can build on this research to study a variety of possible materials. "We'll look at different materials, and look at the trends," she says. "Such research could allow us to identify the physical parameters that govern the catalyst activity. Ultimately, we will be able to predict the catalyst behaviors. "

One issue to be dealt with in developing a battery system that could be widely commercialized is safety. Lithium in metallic form, which is used in lithium-air batteries, is highly reactive in the presence of even minuscule amounts of water. This is not an issue in current lithium-ion batteries because carbon-based materials are used for the negative electrode. Shao-Horn says the same battery principle can be applied without the need to use metallic lithium; graphite or some other more stable negative electrode materials could be used instead, she says, leading to a safer system.

A number of issues must be addressed before lithium-air batteries can become a practical commercial product, she says. The biggest issue is developing a system that keeps its power through a sufficient number of charging and discharging cycles for it to be useful in vehicles or electronic devices.

Researchers also need to look into details of the chemistry of the charging and discharging processes, to see what compounds are produced and where, and how they react with other compounds in the system. "We're at the very beginning" of understanding exactly how these reactions occur, Shao-Horn says.

Gholam-Abbas Nazri, a researcher at the GM Research & Development Center in Michigan, calls this research "interesting and important," and says this addresses a significant bottleneck in the development of this technology: the need find an efficient catalyst. This work is "in the right direction for further understanding of the role of catalysts," and it "may significantly contribute to the further understanding and future development of lithium-air systems," he says.

While some companies working on lithium-air batteries have said they see it as a 10-year development program, Shao-Horn says it is too early to predict how long it may take to reach commercialization. "It's a very promising area, but there are many science and engineering challenges to be overcome," she says. "If it truly demonstrates two to three times the energy density" of today's lithium-ion batteries, she says, the likely first applications will be in portable electronics such as computers and cell phones, which are high-value items, and only later would be applied to vehicles once the costs are reduced.

####

About MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century — whether the focus is cancer, energy, economics or literature.

For more information, please click here

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Chemistry

Creating new materials with quantum effects for electronics January 29th, 2015

Anti-microbial coatings with a long-term effect for surfaces – presentation at nano tech 2015 in Japan January 21st, 2015

Hydrogels deliver on blood-vessel growth: Rice researchers introduce improved injectable scaffold to promote healing January 20th, 2015

Graphene enables all-electrical control of energy flow from light emitters: First signatures of graphene plasmons at telecommunications wavelength revealed January 20th, 2015

Possible Futures

GS7 Graphene Sensor maybe Solution in Fight Against Cancer January 25th, 2015

Nanotechnology in Energy Applications Market Research Report 2014-2018: Radiant Insights, Inc January 15th, 2015

'Mind the gap' between atomically thin materials December 23rd, 2014

A novel method for identifying the body’s ‘noisiest’ networks November 19th, 2014

Academic/Education

Rice's Naomi Halas to direct Smalley Institute: Optics pioneer will lead Rice's multidisciplinary science institute January 15th, 2015

SUNY Board Appoints Dr. Alain Kaloyeros as Founding President of SUNY Polytechnic Institute January 13th, 2015

CNSE's Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center Successfully Recertifies as ISO 9001:2008 January 12th, 2015

SUNY Poly Now Accepting Applications to the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering for Fall 2015: Full Scholarships Available to Incoming CNSE Students January 7th, 2015

Announcements

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Energy

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

Los Alamos Develops New Technique for Growing High-Efficiency Perovskite Solar Cells: Researchers’ crystal-production insights resolve manufacturing difficulty January 29th, 2015

Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply January 27th, 2015

Automotive/Transportation

Teijin to Participate in Nano Tech 2015 January 22nd, 2015

Materials - Efficient catalysts... January 13th, 2015

Waterloo chemist one step closer to a new generation of electric car battery January 12th, 2015

New concept of fuel cell for efficiency and environment: It grasps both performance efficiency and removal of toxic heavy metal ions in direct methanol fuel cells January 5th, 2015

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Nexeon Board Changes Announced January 29th, 2015

'Bulletproof' battery: Kevlar membrane for safer, thinner lithium rechargeables January 28th, 2015

Toyocolor to Launch New Carbon Nanotube Materials at nano tech 2015 January 24th, 2015

Smart keyboard cleans and powers itself -- and can tell who you are January 21st, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE