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Study paves way for larger, safer lithium ion batteries

ORNL researchers developed a nanoporous solid electrolyte (bottom left and in detail on right) from a solvated precursor (top left). The material conducts ions 1,000 times faster than its natural bulk form and enables more energy-dense lithium ion batteries. Credit: ORNL (Phys.org)—Looking toward improved batteries for charging electric cars and storing energy from renewable but intermittent solar and wind, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed the first high-performance, nanostructured solid electrolyte for more energy-dense lithium ion batteries. Ads by Google Electric Cars on Sale. – 2013 Big Sale! Further Reduction on Electric Cars. Save Big Today. – LowerPrices.us/Electric-Cars Today’s lithium-ion batteries rely on a liquid electrolyte, the material that conducts ions between the negatively charged anode and positive cathode. But liquid electrolytes often entail safety issues because of their flammability, especially as researchers try to pack more energy in a smaller battery volume. Building batteries with a solid electrolyte, as ORNL researchers have demonstrated, could overcome these safety concerns and size constraints. “To make a safer, lightweight battery, we need the design at the beginning to have safety in mind,” said ORNL’s Chengdu Liang, who led the newly published study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. “We started with a conventional material that is highly stable in a battery system – in particular one that is compatible with a lithium metal anode.” The ability to use pure lithium metal as an anode could ultimately yield batteries five to 10 times more powerful than current versions, which employ carbon based anodes.

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