Despite their widespread use in electric vehicles and hybrids, researchers don’t know exactly why lithium-ion batteries are so good at storing energy. New research has revealed why a particular type of lithium battery is particularly promising for next-gen battery research.
The focus of the investigation was on lithium iron phosphate, a particular kind of cathode that allows for long-lasting, fast-charging batteries. LiFePO4 batteries are already used in construction tool and grid storage systems, and could be a big boon to the electric car market. Renewable Energy World reports that;
“MIT researchers found that inside this electrode, during charging, a solid-solution zone (SSZ) forms at the boundary between lithium-rich and lithium-depleted areas — the region where charging activity is concentrated, as lithium ions are pulled out of the electrode.”
So what’s that all mean?
“The observations help to resolve a longstanding puzzle about LiFePO4: In bulk crystal form, both lithium iron phosphate and iron phosphate (FePO4, which is left behind as lithium ions migrate out of the material during charging) have very poor ionic and electrical conductivities. Yet when treated — with doping and carbon coating — and used as nanoparticles in a battery, the material exhibits an impressively high charging rate.”
The more researchers can learn about batteries and how they go, the more progress that can be made towards a new generation of fast-charging, high-capacity, long-lasting batteries. The EVs of the future rely on it.