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Battery Design Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach

| Author / Editor: Emmanuel Odunlade / Erika Granath

A research team at Penn State has developed a design for Next-Gen Batteries that can help technology paradigms like Electric Vehicles and Renewable Energy, attain their full potential.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), commonly referred to as Penn State, recently made a breakthrough in their work to find new ways to design efficient batteries for the future.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), commonly referred to as Penn State, recently made a breakthrough in their work to find new ways to design efficient batteries for the future.
(Source: Adobe Stock )

Batteries are important, to say the least, parts of our future. The success of technology paradigms like Electric Vehicles and Renewable Energy depends widely on the development of compact, high capacity, long-lasting, and all-round efficient batteries.

Several approaches that involve the combination of Lithium with other elements likelithium-sulfur are being explored by researchers all over the world.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), commonly referred to as Penn State, recently made a breakthrough in their work to find new ways to design efficient batteries for the future. If successful, the team's discoveries can result in extremely long-lasting, faster-charging, and safer Lithium metal-based batteries.

The research team led by Prof Donghai Wang, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at PSU, developed a three-dimensional cross-linked polymer sponge that attaches to the metal plating of the battery's anode. The project's aim, according to Prof. Wang, was to "develop the next generation of metal batteries" by overcoming the flaws in the current solutions.

Penn State researchers aim to develop the next generation of metal batteries

While much success has been recorded with the use of Lithium metal in batteries in the past, there are fundamental issues in its chemistry that prevent it from attaining performance levels that are desired for modern applications like EVs and Renewable Energy. For example, under the additional strain of applications like the fast-charging methods desired in electric vehicles, lithium-ion (Li) batteries are vulnerable to dendritic growths (needle-like formations) that reduces its life cycle and could bring about safety challenges like fire and explosions.

To address this, the researchers at Penn State use a polymer that acts as a porous sponge that not only promotes ion transfer but also inhibits deterioration on the interface of Li metal. This, according to Professor Wang, "allowed the metal plating to be free of dendrites, even at low temperatures and fast charge conditions."

The research, which was funded by the U.S Department of Energy, was a collaborative project that brought together researchers from different disciplines within PSU.

Professor Wang: "The collaboration in this cohort really helped drive this paper forward. It allowed us to examine the different aspects of the problem, from materials science, chemical engineering, chemistry, and mechanical engineering perspectives."

The Penn State research team has begun exploring the practical applications of their discovery in a large-format battery cell to demonstrate its advantages and feasibility. If successful, it could lead to the development of more powerful and stable metal battery technologies, integral to everyday life. According to Professor Wang, the project can also affect technologies like electric vehicles, increasing the range/distance the cars can travel before a battery recharge is necessary.

More information about the research, its contributors, and the potential impact can be found on Penn State University website.

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