A study led by researchers from Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory claims that rapid charging of lithium-ion batteries may not be as damaging to the electrodes as thought. Furthermore, the benefits of slow charging and discharging may have been overestimated.
Up until now, it has been widely accepted that fast charging a lithium-ion battery will quickly degrade the electrodes, specifically the cathode and anode, which have to do with how quickly electrons flow from an energy source to the battery. The results can be applied soon to the graphite and oxide electrodes that are used in today’s lithium-ion batteries, and the study also suggests that there are better ways of battery charging left to be discovered.
By tweaking the electrode, researchers could increase the rate of recharging while maintaining a longer battery life. Much of the damage done to the electrodes comes from swelling and shrinking as they absorb ions from the electrolytes during charging and use.
While hardly the most exciting study, and certainly not the holy grail of battery tech that researchers are hoping to find, it could prompt battery companies to rethink their current technologies. The limitations of electrode materials has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks to building a better battery, though there are more steps to the study. The next step is to run various electrodes through thousands of charging and discharging cycles, and researchers hope to take “snapshots” of the damage to electrodes over time, rather than totally disassembling the battery.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Tesla owners have shown that despite constant fast-charging, their batteries still retain 99% of their capacity even after 28,000+ miles.
This study will bring researchers closer to a firm conclusion, and could open the door to finding that game-changing battery electrode.