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Researchers develop all-carbon lithium battery

Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new type of rechargeable lithium battery with components made entirely of carbon. Unlike the lithium-ion batteries currently sold around the world to power smart phones, laptops, and countless other devices, this new battery is made without the toxic metal cobalt. The new technology pairs an anode and cathode made from the nanomaterial graphene with metallic lithium to create an energy storage device. This research could lead to a new generation of batteries with significantly higher energy density, and that are nontoxic, easy to manufacture, and inexpensive to recycle. “In this study, we show how to make a new type of battery using graphene, as well as an unlikely component – metallic lithium,” said Nikhil Koratkar, the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer, who led the study. “Metallic lithium is avoided in lithium-ion batteries due to its tendency to form dendrites which are considered unsafe, but we show that metallic lithium trapped within a porous graphene structure is safe and does not form dendrites. The result is an all-carbon lithium battery that offers up to three times higher energy density than conventional batteries. It is also more environmentally friendly, and with its simplified chemistry could be easier and less expensive to mass produce.”


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