Tesla: Researchers have developed a battery that could last more than 100 years

Tesla: Researchers have developed a battery that could last more than 100 years

Smartphones, laptops, electric cars, energy storage solutions … And the core of these products is always the battery. In the small world of autonomous electrical products, Tesla plays a central role thanks to the impetus that its cars have given to the electrical revolution, but also in scientific research on batteries.

Specialized research center supported by a specialist in the field

So if Panasonic played a key role in the production of Tesla batteries, Elona Muska is working upstream on research in this area. Since June 2016, the California company has created a specialized center in Canada. and Tesla Advanced Battery Research is the result of a partnership signed in June 2015 with Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Of course, the choice of this university remains nothing to chance. Among his professors and researchers is a certain Jeff Dahn, a world-renowned pioneer of lithium-ion batteries.

Over the years, he and his teams of researchers and students have focused on two basic aspects: energy density, the amount of electricity that can be stored, which allows you to reduce the size of batteries for the same autonomy, and cell life.

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A new step forward

IN Journal of the Electromechanical Societya specialized scientific journal, Jeff Dahn, Michael Metzger and other researchers have published a new article with a simple title If[Ni0.5Mn0.3Co0.2]O2 as an excellent alternative to LiFePO4 for low-voltage, long-life Li-Ion cells.

They describe work co-financed by Tesla, which resulted in batteries using materials other than lithium iron-phosphate batteries (LiFePO4 or LFP). The latter have gradually taken over use in many cases since their introduction in the mid-1990s. These solutions do offer high density and longevity, as well as deep cycling capacity, which allows them to be used for energy storage.

In addition to lithium, Jeff Dahn’s teams used nickel, manganese and cobalt (and of course graphite) at low voltages, around 3.8 V. The conclusions of their experiments with these cells, called NMC532, are very promising.
First, at temperatures of 40, 55 and even 70 ° C, the energy density of their battery is higher than that of LFP battery cells. Then there is also a higher number of their life cycles. While energy efficiency – in other words, Coulomb efficiency and voltage efficiency – is much better, charging and discharging losses, including passive ones, are reduced.

Very encouraging findings

Simulations of the use of these batteries have made it possible to find that energy cells retain a high ability to retain energy despite a large number of cycles. These results are impressive enough for scientists to suggest that at an operating temperature of 25 ° C, the life of these batteries could exceed one hundred years. The key seems to be in the use of lithium salt electrolyte (LiFSI), very common in lithium-ion batteries.

This resilience could reduce the need for battery recovery and thus address one of the most worrying environmental aspects when multiplying batteries to power equipment or store energy.

In addition, researchers suggest that these benefits could extend to other nickel-based batteries, including those that use little or no cobalt. This rare material, also called blue metal, is indeed at the heart of the conflicts and exploitation of local people, including children, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The potential to change things

It is clear that there will always be some time between the scientific demonstration just conducted and the day-to-day application of this research. However, these new “batteries” have many advantages, their higher energy density than LFP cells could replace this technology when it reaches its limits, or when the initial costs of successful project completion are less important than stock life.

Similarly, and this is another step that Jeff Dahn’s teams will be looking at, these batteries could be adapted for fast charging.

Without stating what Tesla could do about it, it is conceivable that potential candidates would be its Powerwall, its home units, or giant electricity storage farms such as those it produced in Australia.
At a time when one of the main challenges is the decarbonisation of our energy, and thus the possibility of resolving the issue of sustainable energy storage, the production of which is uncertain, this new, greener and more sustainable approach seems encouraging.

source: Journal of The Electrochemical Society via Electrek

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