In today’s world, even though electric cars are receiving attention and growing in popularity, they remain limited in how many miles they can drive before the battery runs out. However, new advancements may improve energy performance and create a safe design for lithium-ion batteries. Conventional lithium-ion batteries use graphite as the anode since it is affordable, lightweight, and can endure ongoing battery cycles. Now, research shows that power requiring applications could benefit more from lithium instead of graphite anodes as it is lightweight and tremendously energy-dense i.e. they can pack a lot of energy in a given mass or volume.

Researchers found that the main challenge using Lithium anodes would be that they form dendrites, crystals creating a branch-like structure, after a few battery cycles. When the dendrites grow uncontrollably in a lithium metal cell, they can act as tiny wires that cause a short-circuit and disrupt the battery’s mechanism. One possible method to prevent this growth could be to physically press something against the dendrites that would suppress their growth. For instance, instead of using a liquid electrolyte, a solid electrolyte is used which would apply enough mechanical pressure to hold back the dendrites. However, this was only applicable in theory as when the researchers put this idea to the test, the dendrites still grew despite the strength of the pressure put on it.

With this information, researchers now have a better idea of what is required to make lithium-ion batteries more sustainable and power-intensive while work is being done to tackle the challenges at hand. The researchers are experimenting with different types of polymers and ceramics as electrolytes to limit the growth of dendrites and therefore create longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries.

Reference:

A Pathway to Longer-Lasting Lithium:
https://www.caltech.edu/about/news/lithium-metal-batteries-julia-greer

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