New research at the University of Waterloo in Canada could lead to the development of batteries with triple the range of current battery technology for electric vehicles.
Quanan Pang, who led the research while a PhD candidate at Waterloo, and his fellow researchers made a breakthrough involving the use of negative electrodes made of lithium metal. The material has the potential to dramatically increase battery storage technology.
With increased energy density and therefore energy capacity, electric vehicles could see as much as three times the range on a single charge.
“This will mean cheap, safe, long-lasting batteries that give people much more range in their electric vehicles,” said Pang.
In developing the technology, two challenges arose for researchers. The first involved a risk of fires and explosions caused by microscopic structural changes to the lithium metal during repeated charge-discharge cycles. The second involved a reaction that creates corrosion and limits both how well the electrodes work and how long they last.
Researchers were able to solve both problems by adding a compound of phosphorus and sulfure to the electrolyte liquid carrying a charge within batteries.
The full research paper was published in the journal Joule.
“We wanted a simple, scalable way to protect the lithium metal,” said Pang, now a post-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “With this solution, we just add the compound and it works by itself.”