A new lithium-oxide battery could not only reduce pollution caused by lithium-based batteries, but it could also create batteries that can store more power AND use it more efficiently, meaning it could expand the range of electric cars and the amount of time a smart phone can go before it needs recharging.
The team that developed the battery is from Northwestern University.
A team from Northwestern University has created a lithium-iron-oxide battery that has the potential to power cars and smartphones hours longer than traditional batteries. Best of all, it’s inexpensive and rechargeable.
Christopher Wolverton and his team of researchers at Northwestern University, in collaboration with a team of researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, have created a new lithium ion battery that shouldn’t work. For starters, it uses iron, a material that has always failed when used in other batteries. It also uses oxygen in a way scientists used to think would make batteries unusable.Instead of producing another failing battery, Wolverton and Zhenpeng Yao, a PhD student in Wolverton’s laboratory, used computations to create a new formula that allows it to function. Specifically, they found the right balance of lithium, iron, and oxygen ions that enable the oxygen and iron to cause a chemical reaction that doesn’t result in the oxygen escaping, which would render the battery unstable.
“The problem previously was that often, if you tried to get oxygen to participate in the reaction, the compound would become unstable,” explained Yao. “Oxygen would be released from the battery, making the reaction irreversible.”
In the end, their battery not only works, but it’s rechargeable, cheaper than traditional lithium-cobalt-oxide batteries — as iron is one of the cheapest elements on the planet, and cheaper than cobalt — and has a much higher energy capacity. It could one day be used in smartphones and electric vehicles, thereby boosting their capabilities. According to Wolverton, their new battery could keep phones powered eight times longer “or your car could drive eight times farther.”