The lithium-ion battery that will revolutionize power generation
When it comes to battery technology, lithium-air batteries have been the undisputed winner in recent years.
These are made of carbon and can be discharged at high pressure and at a high voltage, providing a large capacity, low weight and excellent energy density.
The problem with lithium-battery technology is that its energy density is quite low, at less than one kWh per kilogram.
But this has allowed the battery to be made of a relatively thin, flexible material, which in turn is able to be charged quickly.
Now, researchers at the University of Queensland have created a thin battery with an extremely high energy density of nearly 300 kWh per kg.
“We’ve made a battery that’s really good at both high and low energy density,” said Dr. Joanna De Vries, an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
“It’s made from carbon, it’s very stable and very well behaved.
We’ve made it out of an alloy, which is very good for its conductivity, but also has a good capacity to deliver large amounts of power.”
The researchers used a process called “battery ablation,” which involves melting a small amount of a material and allowing it to solidify.
The solidified material is then cooled to a high temperature, before the liquid is pumped through a vacuum.
“The process we’ve been using here is called bimetallic ablation, which involves using a thin, dense material and a large amount of heat,” Dr. De Vues said.
The resulting mixture of metals, including iron and cobalt, can then be cooled to near absolute zero, and then heated to a much higher temperature.
“At the low end, you can get a battery with energy densities of more than 300 kWh/kg,” she explained.
“But the more you get into the energy density, the lower the cost.”
In a test run of this battery, the researchers found that the battery was capable of charging the battery at a rate of over 1,000 cycles per hour, which made it one of the fastest batteries available for commercial use.
It can also charge the battery in a matter of seconds, compared to the average of more like 30 minutes, she said.
“This battery has been able to do that with the most energy density available for battery charging,” she said, adding that the lithium-cell batteries are also very energy-efficient.
“If we were to make this in the future, we’d need to do some more ablation to get this capacity up to that level,” Dr De Vories said.
While the team did not go into detail on how they were able to achieve the energy density, they have previously created an electric vehicle battery with a similar density of 1,400 kWh/g.
And while the battery can only be charged with the use of an external battery charger, they are confident that this one is the safest way to charge it.
The new battery has an electrical output of less than 0.5 mA, which means that it’s capable of delivering less than 10 amps to the battery.
“Our design is to have the lithium electrode in a very high-temperature state and the cathode in a low-temperate state, but we don’t have to use electrolytes,” she added.
“There’s a lot of flexibility in this system that we can use in the foreseeable future.”
With its high energy efficiency, the new battery could make batteries a viable replacement for conventional battery technology.
“While the energy efficiency is very high, there are also a lot less costs involved than lithium-polymer batteries,” she noted.
“So you could have a battery-powered car or a battery system that would be very efficient.”