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Researchers May Have Solved a 40-year Problem – Long-Lasting Batteries

David Paul

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battery technology
A type of long-life lithium battery is in development that could help electric vehicles to rival their petrol-powered counterparts.

Researchers from Harvard may have found the key to stable, fast-charging battery technology, according to new research.

A team from Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) say they have designed a stable, lithium-metal solid-state battery that can be charged and discharged at least 10,000 times.

This number is far more cycles than have been previously demonstrated. The team believe that the technology could increase the lifespan of an electric vehicle to 10-15 years – around the same as current petrol-powered cars.

Additionally, without the need for replacement and its high current density, the battery has the potential to reduce the currently substantial electric vehicles charging times down from several hours to 10-20 minutes.

Commenting on the battery tech, Xin Li, Associate Professor of Materials Science SEAS, said: “A lithium-metal battery is considered the holy grail for battery chemistry because of its high capacity and energy density, but the stability of these batteries has always been poor.”

Long-lasting, quick-charging batteries are essential to the expansion of the electric vehicle market, but today’s lithium-ion batteries fall short of what’s needed — they’re too heavy, too expensive and take too long to charge.

This changed in January this year when it was announced that batteries capable of charging electric vehicles in five minutes had been produced in a factory for the first time.

Electric cars could be charged at the same speed it would take a petrol or diesel vehicle to be filled, placing them as a viable transport option.

Dr Li’s research, published in Nature and supported Dean’s Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship at Harvard University and Harvard Data Science Initiative Competitive Research Fund, showed that this new solid-state battery could be fundamentally different from the commercial liquid electrolyte lithium-ion battery.


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“By studying their fundamental thermodynamics, we can unlock superior performance and harness their abundant opportunities,” he said.

Dr Li’s research focuses on a multi-layer approach to assemble the battery, allowing them to ‘self-heal’, potentially solving issues of degradation over time.

It is hoped that the design can be developed commercially in order to meet the growing needs of the electric vehicle industry.

He continued: “Scaling it up to the commercial battery won’t be easy and there are still some practical challenges, but we believe they will be overcome.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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