Researchers from two China institutes have solved the problem of lithium battery electrolyte degradationbeen after being inspired by the way organisms tackle the ageing effects of highly reactive oxygen and free radicals.
The teams from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) were inspired by the anti-oxygen coping mechanisms of organisms.
The researchers developed a photostabiliser by adding an anti-aging binder additive to the electrolyte to scavenge the oxygen atoms and free radicals as they occur.
The study was published in the peer reviewed Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The chemical degradation of the electrolytes in lithium batteries, with transition-metal oxides, is caused during the cycling of the circuit by oxidation and by an attack of free radicals— any atom, molecule, or ion with an unpaired valence (outer layer) electron, said the scientists.
Professor Guanglei Cui, a lead researcher from QIBEBT, said: “This heralds a new paradigm for manipulating the cathode and electrolyte chemistry of all sorts of rechargeable batteries involving chemical degradation of electrolyte.”
Organisms often produce different types of enzymes that work to scavenge active oxygen and free radicals, to alleviate the degradation issue that occurs in nature— oxygen is one of the elements most capable of attracting electrons from other atoms and molecules.
Through theoretical calculation and experimental investigation, the researchers found that this bio-inspired oxygen scavenging mechanism delivered superior electrochemical performance, even under elevated temperatures.