Global Development of Battery Materials and Components – An Excerpt of the Year 2017

Within the last year, many researchers at universities, institutes and companies pushed forward the international development of battery technologies with their innovative technical solutions. All around the globe engineers and scientists strive to improve the efficiency of batteries and their integration in our every-day technology, such as the use in e-vehicles.

Especially the sector of lithium-ion batteries found support by new developments of cathodic and anodic materials in 2017. Researchers at Fudan University of Shanghai1, for instance, achieved an improvement in the charging processes of lithium-ion batteries by using a lithium-reduced vanadium phosphate cathode in combination with a relithiated hard-carbon anode, which guarantees longer lifetime and higher capacity at lower temperatures. Rice University in Houston2, Texas, found a beneficial possibility for the deployment of asphalt-derived carbon anodes, which are able to prevent an unsafe formation of lithium dendrites, thus are able to eliminate a long-known weak point in battery technology. A team of scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology3 in Japan found a way of supplying batteries with silicone anodes with a multi-layered structure and created a more than ten times higher capacity. By using porphyrin, which stabilizes the batteries’ electrodes and enables a large amount of charging cycles without any loss of performance, researchers of the German Helmholtz Institute and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology4 took battery technology a major step forward.

However, not only the material of cathodes and anodes made a notable progress in 2017, also other material used in the production of batteries has been explored. The scientific interest was also placed on new methods to make the electrolyte liquid safer. The Drexel University in Philadelphia5, USA, added nanodiamonds to the electrolyte and found a way to prevent short-circuiting due to the easy attachment of lithium-ions onto the diamonds. The German energy storage company Lion Smart GmbH6 developed the 3M-Novec liquid for their own battery system, which serves as a medium for data transmission, especially in mobile high-performance batteries.

Other research teams, such as the Berkeley Laboratory7 or the Virginia Commonwealth University8 in the USA, invested their effort in the development of other battery types. The Berkeley team discovered a promising solid-state magnesium-ion battery and uncovered the role of anti-site defects and the interplay of electronics and magnesium conductivity, helping move the development of magnesium solid electrolytes a great deal further. In the meantime, the Virginia Commonwealth University worked on the creation of an extraordinary stable tri-anion particle, which may increase the competitiveness of aluminum-based batteries in the coming years.

It was an overall exciting year in the area of battery materials as crucial milestones have been reached. The ees International looks forward to further studies and findings in 2018, which will make electrical energy storage even safer, faster and more sustainable.


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