Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > NASA Funds Development of Nanoscale Materials for High Energy Density Lithium-Ion Batteries

Abstract:
NanoEngineers at the University of California, San Diego are designing new types of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that could be used in a variety of NASA space exploration projects - and in a wide range of transportation and consumer applications.

NASA Funds Development of Nanoscale Materials for High Energy Density Lithium-Ion Batteries

San Diego, CA | Posted on August 31st, 2010

NEI Corporation and UC San Diego recently won a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer contract from NASA to develop and implement high energy density cathode materials for lithium batteries.

NEI is the prime contractor on the NASA contract and Shirley Meng, a professor in the Department of NanoEngineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, is a subcontractor. The nearly $600,000 program builds upon expertise in the UC San Diego Department of NanoEngineering in modeling new nanocomposite structures for next generation electrode materials, and NEI's capability to reproducibly synthesize electrode materials at the nanoscale.

Battery Applications

Advanced Li-ion battery systems with high energy and power densities - and the ability to operate at low temperatures - are required for NASA's exploration missions. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN), deep drilling equipment and Astrobiology Field Laboratory on Mars, International X-ray Observatory (IXO), and extravehicular activities are potential space applications. Advanced lithium-ion battery packs could also be used in hybrid electric vehicles, consumer electronics, medical devices, electric scooters, and a variety of military applications.

Designing Batteries from the Atom Up

The UC San Diego NanoEngineers will help guide development of the new batteries using advanced modeling techniques. "We will give NEI candidate materials that we think will have optimal battery properties, and they will make the materials using their proprietary technology," said professor Shirley Meng, who leads the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion in the Department of NanoEngineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

The outcome of the program will be a commercially useable cathode material with exceptionally high capacity - more than 250 milliAmp-Hours per gram (250 mAh/g) at about 4V, which translates to an energy density of more than 1000 Watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg). This represents a factor of two enhancement in energy density over lithium cobalt oxide, which is the most commonly used cathode material at the present time. NEI expects to have sample cathode materials for testing by interested end-users by the middle of 2011.

The UC San Diego NanoEngineers will design the candidate cathode materials using "first principles calculations" - a quantum-mechanical based calculation method that enables the engineers to predict electrochemical properties of the batteries prior to synthesis.

One aspect of the batteries the engineers will predict is the structural stability of the electrode materials as the lithium concentration fluctuates during charge and discharge. Enhancing structural stability is critical for extending the life of rechargeable batteries.

"We are pleased to be working closely with Shirley Meng on this exciting materials manufacturing project. The shortest path to developing new materials and implementing them in practical applications is for materials manufacturers to work synergistically with researchers like Prof. Meng, who can create new structures through computation and modeling," said Dr. Ganesh Skandan, CEO NEI Corporation.

"This work, which could lead to new batteries for space exploration and beyond, is just one example of the high impact research being done in the Department of NanoEngineering," said Kenneth Vecchio, Professor and Chair of the Department of NanoEngineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Batteries for hybrid electric vehicles or full electric cars

Work in the Meng lab on next-generation batteries extends beyond the collaboration with NEI.

"In my group, we are very interested in batteries that will be used in future transportation systems. Lithium batteries for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or full electric cars have a lot of potential, but we have to work very hard to decrease the dollar per kilowatt hour numbers," said Meng, whose research group at UC San Diego is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other government and industry sources.

The new Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer contract follows a similar Phase I contract awarded to the same industry-university team.

"If we are going to use large scale batteries for applications such as electric cars, it is not acceptable to replace batteries every three years. The cycle life of the batteries becomes very important and this is a challenge to address. How do we make batteries last for ten years instead of three years? We have to look for other options for the structure of the battery materials that are more robust," said Meng.

The Cathode Bottleneck

The positive electrode in lithium-ion batteries - the cathode - is one battery component ripe for additional improvements.

"The cathode is a performance bottleneck for modern lithium batteries that power consumer electronics like PDAs, mp3 players and laptops," said Meng.

"There is plenty of room for improving energy density in lithium batteries by at least another 50 percent. The problem is making these improvements under the constraints of cost. That is the main obstacle. We are looking at dollars per kilowatt hour. We need to make sure the raw materials are low cost, the synthesis process is low cost, and the packaging of the battery is low cost," said Meng.

Moving to Manganese

The lithium ion batteries Meng's group is working on are primarily manganese based, while most of the lithium batteries in the marketplace today are cobalt based.

"Manganese is much cheaper than cobalt, and manganese is more abundant," said Meng. "Also, we are focusing on a different material structure for the batteries, one that is easier to make and could lead to cheaper synthesis."

The nanoengineers in the Meng lab will be using first principles to model new nanocomposite structures for the generation of cathode materials with exceptionally high energy density.

"We explore the electrochemical properties of the batteries we design and develop to see if the experimentally measured properties match with our predictions," said Meng. "We use this feedback mechanism to improve our computational modeling."

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © University of California, San Diego

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

Academic/Education

MIT Energy Initiative awards 10 seed fund grants for early-stage energy research May 4th, 2017

Bar-Ilan University to set up quantum research center May 1st, 2017

California Research Alliance by BASF establishes more than 25 research projects in three years April 26th, 2017

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Announces Total of 172 Teams Selected to Compete in Solar in Your Community Challenge: Teams from 40 states, plus Washington, DC, 2 Territories, and 4 American Indian Reservations, Will Deploy Solar in Underserved Communities April 20th, 2017

Announcements

Three-dimensional graphene: Experiment at BESSY II shows that optical properties are tuneable May 24th, 2017

Leti to Demo 1st Wireless UNB Transceiver for ‘Massive Internet of Things’ at RFIC 2017 and IMS 2017: Leti Will also Present Three Papers & Two Workshops on 5G Communications IC Design, from RF to mm-Wave, During IMS 2017 and RFIC 2017 in Hawaii May 24th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Chengdu Partner to Expand FD-SOI Ecosystem in China: More than $100M investment to establish a center of excellence for FDXTM FD-SOI design May 23rd, 2017

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Military

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Gas gives laser-induced graphene super properties: Rice University study shows inexpensive material can be superhydrophilic or superhydrophobic May 15th, 2017

'Hot' electrons don't mind the gap: Rice University scientists find nanogaps in plasmonic gold wires enhance voltage when excited May 8th, 2017

Automotive/Transportation

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Chengdu Partner to Expand FD-SOI Ecosystem in China: More than $100M investment to establish a center of excellence for FDXTM FD-SOI design May 23rd, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

Self-healing tech charges up performance for silicon-containing battery anodes May 15th, 2017

UnitySC Announces Wafer Thinning Inspection System; Win from Power Semiconductor IDM for Automotive: Leading IDM Selects New 4See Series Automated Defect Inspection Platform for Power Semiconductor Automotive Applications May 11th, 2017

Aerospace/Space

Space energy technology restored to make power stations more efficient: Scientists use graphene to reinvent abandoned heat energy converter technology March 7th, 2017

Applied Graphene Materials plc - Significant commercial progress in AGM’s three core sectors March 3rd, 2017

Triboelectric Nanogenerators Boost Mass Spectrometry Performance March 1st, 2017

EmTech Asia breaks new barriers with potential applications of space exploration with NASA and MIT February 22nd, 2017

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

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Self-healing tech charges up performance for silicon-containing battery anodes May 15th, 2017

Gas gives laser-induced graphene super properties: Rice University study shows inexpensive material can be superhydrophilic or superhydrophobic May 15th, 2017

Is this the 'holey' grail of batteries? May 12th, 2017

Grants/Sponsored Research/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Gas gives laser-induced graphene super properties: Rice University study shows inexpensive material can be superhydrophilic or superhydrophobic May 15th, 2017

Fed grant backs nanofiber development: Rice University joins Department of Energy 'Next Generation Machines' initiative May 10th, 2017

'Hot' electrons don't mind the gap: Rice University scientists find nanogaps in plasmonic gold wires enhance voltage when excited May 8th, 2017

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