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Power Science Technology

Crushed Silicon Triples Life of Li-Ion Batteries In the Lab 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-me-a-hammer dept.
derekmead writes "Batteries rule everything around us, which makes breakthroughs a big deal. A research team at Rice says they have produced a nice jump: by using a crushed silicon anode in a lithium-ion battery, they claim to have nearly tripled the energy density of current li-ion designs. Engineer Sibani Lisa Biswal and research scientist Madhuri Thakur reported in Nature's Scientific Reports (it has yet to be published online) that by taking porous silicon and crushing it, they were able to dramatically decrease the volume required for anode material. Silicon has long been looked at as an anode material because it holds up to ten times more lithium ions than graphite, which is most commonly used commercially. But it's previously been difficult to create a silicon anode with enough surface area to cycle reliably. Silicon also expands when it's lithiated, making it harder to produce a dense anode material. After previously testing a porous silicon 'sponge,' the duo decided to try crushing the sponges to make them more compact. The result is a new battery design that holds a charge of 1,000 milliamp hours per gram through 600 tested charge cycles of two hours charging, two hours discharging. According to the team, current graphite anodes can only handle 350 mAh/g."
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Crushed Silicon Triples Life of Li-Ion Batteries In the Lab

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  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Friday November 02, 2012 @02:56PM (#41856391)

    Breakthrough paradigm shifting innovative batteries have been around at least since 1901 and none of them worked.

    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2010/05/the-status-quo-of-electric-cars-better-batteries-same-range.html [lowtechmagazine.com]

    (ctrl+f -> miracle batteries)

    Technology changes incrementally and not on public demand.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:13PM (#41856665)

    There's several areas which are ripe for improvement in batteries.

    1) Power density.
    2) Recharge cycles.
    3) Charge time.
    4) Charge efficiency.
    5) Shelf drain.

    Even if a certain technology gives a 10x improvement on one of those, it may turn out to have a negative impact on one (or more) of the others, and therefore not be worth marketing.

    Example:
    My new battery technology improves cuts charge time in half! It also cuts power density by a factor of 3. In certain, specific scenarios it might still be worth using one of these new batteries, but in general, it's won't be.

  • by alexander_686 (957440) on Friday November 02, 2012 @03:14PM (#41856689)

    Your making the assumption that the cost reduction in using fewer materials offsets the new manufacturing process – which we don’t know (could be high, lower, or the same).

    For years we have been able to manufacture cars that get better gas mileage by switching from steel to aluminum, carbon fibers, etc – but we have never done it because the cost of the lighter materials (both in manufacturing and maintenance) are higher.

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