March 22, 2016
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Toyota researchers have discovered a way to remove the liquid electrolyte component of lithium ion batteries to create a far more stable power source that complete an entire charge/discharge cycle in less than seven minutes. The prototype has the same energy density as traditional lithium-ion batteries, but it can remain functional at a much wider temperature range. The battery still functions all the way down to -30 degrees Celsius, and when it nears 100 degrees Celsius, its discharge rate is comparable to a supercapacitor.

While this doesn’t solve the primary issue smartphone batteries are facing – namely, the fact that battery tech doesn’t advance in accordance with Moore’s law, so we’re still dealing with batteries that are far larger than processing tech of the same age – it does solve the vast majority of battery failure scenarios. How you may ask? Let’s take a look!

Lithium Ion Batteries AA

So the primary operation that a battery must be able to perform is to ferry electrons from one electrode to another, right? The ideal medium for this has traditionally been a liquid electrolyte. The only problem is that leaking electrolytes are the cause of a slew of sudden battery failure issues. Moreover, if your liquid electrolytes freeze over, your battery can become dysfunctional.

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Now, researchers have long been looking for a solid alternative to these liquid electrolytes. Solid electrolytes are totally doable, but the problem is that they need to have a very particular crystalline structure that basically operates like a subway system for electrons. Most chemicals that have the kind of structure that allows for this are either prohibitively expensive or chemically unstable. However, Toyota researchers have found two substances that fit the bill:  Li9.54Si1.74P1.44S11.7Cl0.3 and Li9.6P3S12. These maddeningly complex formulas are chemically stable and relatively cheap to produce. Using these instead of liquid electrolytes increases conductivity to twice that of traditional lithium-ion batteries, greatly expands the battery’s temperature survival range, and makes for a much more fail-safe component.

What do you think of this new development in the lithium battery world? Snooze news or potentially the battery tech of tomorrow? Let us know your perspective and opinion in the comments below!

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Lithium revolution: what you need to know about the vital resource of tomorrow

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