The energy storage capacity of batteries can now be increased tenfold according to a ground-breaking method developed by researchers at the Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH). This invention could change the face of the entire electric vehicle market in addition to advancing battery technology.
The Function of the Anode in Batteries. The anode, a component in charge of storing energy during the charging stage and then discharging it when the battery is in use, is fundamental to how batteries work. In most contemporary lithium batteries, graphite is currently the material of choice for anodes.
However, some substances, such as silicon, naturally have a far higher energy density than graphite, making them potentially more suitable for effective battery design. However, stabilizing a battery that makes use of a silicon anode has always been difficult. One of the main problems is that the internal chemical processes in the battery cause silicon to expand, endangering the stability and safety of the battery.
A Silicon Anode Technology Breakthrough. Enter Professors Jaegeon Ryu of Sogang University and Professors Soojin Park and Youn Soo Kim of POSTECH, who have devised a solution to this age-old problem with Professor Soojin Park of POSTECH.
Their innovative approach involved devising a special binding material capable of preventing a high-capacity silicon anode from expanding. The result? A lithium battery that boasts a staggering ten times the capacity of its graphite-anode counterparts.
However, POSTECH is not the only company competing to reinvent battery technology globally. Around the world, many teams are persistently pursuing more effective and sustainable solutions.
For instance, a Chinese business has already developed an EV battery that uses sodium, a material that is both affordable and widely accessible, as an effective substitute for the more expensive lithium. The development of an improved solid-state battery is being driven by NASA's innovation and promises to be both small and light compared to current lithium batteries.
Towards a Greener Tomorrow. These battery improvements have implications that go beyond the world of transportation. Using cleaner energy sources, including wind and solar energy, requires efficient batteries. Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, are weather-dependent, in contrast to fossil fuels, which produce energy instantly. To capture energy under ideal conditions and supply it at less favorable times, such as the night or windless days, there is an inherent requirement for efficient storage options.
When we translate this advancement to EVs, a powerful battery implies a longer driving range. The ability of electric vehicles to store more energy might level the playing field, making them just as, if not more, efficient than their gasoline counterparts.
Speaking on the monumental achievement, Professor Park stated on the POSTECH website, “The research holds the potential to increase significantly the energy density of lithium-ion batteries through incorporating high-capacity anode materials, extending the driving range of electric vehicles.”
He further emphasized the transformative potential of silicon-based anodes by adding, “Silicon-based anode materials might increase the driving range at least tenfold.”
As we stand on the precipice of a greener future, it’s clear that innovative battery technology will be at the forefront of this revolution, driving us towards a world less reliant on polluting energy sources. And with these recent developments, that future seems closer than ever.