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Pressure cooking improves electric car batteries

Lithium iron phosphate battery created in Kisailus’ laboratory. Image: UC RiversideBatteries that power electric cars have problems. They take a long time to charge. The charge doesn’t hold long enough to drive long distances. They don’t allow drivers to quickly accelerate. They are big and bulky.

Researchers at the Univ. of California, Riverside (UC Riverside)’s Bourns College of Engineering have redesigned the component materials of the battery in an environmentally friendly way to solve some of these problems. By creating nanoparticles with a controlled shape, they believe smaller, more powerful and energy-efficient batteries can be built. By modifying the size and shape of battery components, they aim to reduce charge times as well.

“This is a critical, fundamental step in improving the efficiency of these batteries,” said David Kisailus, an assoc. prof. of chemical and environmental engineering and lead researcher on the project.

In addition to electric cars, the redesigned batteries could be used for municipal energy storage, including energy generated by the sun and wind.

The initial findings are outlined in Crystal Growth & Design.

Kisailus, who is also the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation, and Jianxin Zhu, a graduate student working with Kisailus, were the lead authors of the paper. Other authors were: Joseph Fiore, Dongsheng Li, Nichola Kinsinger and Qianqian Wang, all of whom formerly worked with Kisailus; Elaine DiMasi, of Brookhaven National Laboratory; and Juchen Guo, an asst. prof. of chemical and environmental engineering at UC Riverside.

The researchers in Kisailus’ Biomimetics and Nanostructured Materials Lab set out to improve the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries by targeting one of the material components of the battery, the cathode.
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