Monday, November 25, 2013

Batteries with more energy that wont catch fire

One of SolidEnergy’s batteries (left). The foil on the right is one of the company’s lithium-metal electrodes

SolidEnergy, a new MIT spinoff company, has come up with new battery materials that would store more energy and won’t catch fire.

The company boasts that its materials can increase the amount of energy that lithium-ion batteries store by 30 percent or more and lower costs enough to make electric vehicles affordable.

The secret behind the new innovation is that the graphite electrode used in conventional lithium-ion batteries has been replaced with a high-energy lithium-metal one. Although this concept has been tested before, but the metal would cause short circuits and fires. Now SolidEnergy has developed improved electrolytes to make them safer. It plans to sell materials to battery manufacturers, rather than making batteries itself.

SolidEnergy has made small, hand-built battery cells, similar to what you would find in a cell phone, using equipment and experts at an A123 Systems lab near Boston. (A123 Systems went bankrupt last year, and was acquired by the Chinese company Wanxiang.) These experimental cells store 30 percent more energy than conventional lithium-ion batteries, but the company calculates that the approach could eventually lead to a 40 percent improvement.

Read more about it at MIT Technology Review

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