Asphalt? Lithium-Ion Battery Discovery Could Lead to Faster and Safer Charging
Lithium Ion batteries have become a crucial component in modern technology. Items like smartphones, chargers and toys use the batteries. But, given their volatility, they've received a hefty amount of criticism. Some scientists have developed new ways to make them safer.
Now, in the case of a scientific team at Rice University, they're working on ways to make them charge faster. The answer? Asphalt.
Rice University chemists James Tour created anodes including porous carbon from asphalt that, according to the report, "showed exceptional stability after more than 500 charge-discharge cycles."
"The capacity of these batteries is enormous, but what is equally remarkable is that we can bring them from zero charge to full charge in five minutes, rather than the typical two hours or more needed with other batteries," Tour said.
That is huge. Faster charging speeds has been something consumers have been looking for in the likes of smartphone products. Apple boasted faster charging speeds in its new iPhone 8 (thanks to USB-C technology).
Charging speed isn't the only benefit here, though. The asphalt addition has shown that it can make it safer, too.
The carbon from the asphalt limited the formation of lithium dendrites in the batteries. The dendrites are what cause batteries' cathodes and anodes to short-circuit, culminating in a failed battery, or worse, a fire.
This discovery is a continuation of the lab's findings that graphene and carbon nanotubes prevented dendrite formation. But, according to Tour, this new design is simpler.
"While the capacity between the former and this new battery is similar, approaching the theoretical limit of lithium metal, the new asphalt-derived carbon can take up more lithium metal per unit area, and it is much simpler and cheaper to make," he said. "There is no chemical vapor deposition step, no e-beam deposition step and no need to grow nanotubes from graphene, so manufacturing is greatly simplified."
The Rice University study was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, EMD-Merck and Prince Energy.
If this development continues, it could mean a safer, faster-charging battery, which would make waves in pretty much any industry that uses batteries, especially smartphones and computers.