Materials researchers in Switzerland have boosted the performance of lithium-ion batteries by up to three times by reworking how an anode accepts ions.
Scientists at the Swiss Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in Villigen and the ETH Zurich created a shorter paths for ions to travel to the anode by subjecting graphite to a rotating magnetic field.
By doing this the suspended graphite flakes align themselves vertically in parallel instead of the haphazardly arranged graphite flakes in a conventional anode.
Under laboratory conditions the procedure is cheaper than conventional methods, it boosts storage capacity, reduces charge times and is scalable, say the researchers.
The discovery was made by Claire Villevieille, head of the battery materials research group at the institute and co-researcher Juliette Billaud alongside scientists at the ETH in Zurich.
The results were reported in the latest issue of the research journal Nature Energy.
“In the context of this competitive field, most researchers concentrate on the development of new materials. But we checked existing components with a view to fully exploiting their potential,” said Villevieille.
However, it is worth noting the team say commercial batteries will not be able to fully replicate their results at the moment
But Villevieille said: “If a manufacturer were willing to take on production, enhanced batteries could be ready for the market within one or two years.”
The technology can also be transferred to other anode-cathode batteries such as those based on sodium, say the researchers.
PIC: Juliette Billaud, co-first author of the new study, and Claire Villevieille, head of the battery materials research group at the Paul Scherrer Institute. (Photo: Markus Fischer/Paul Scherrer Institute).