February 17, 2016

Finnish research opens up new possibilities for Li-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are a rapidly growing energy storage especially in mobile applications such as personal electronics.
Lithium-ion batteries are a rapidly growing energy storage especially in mobile applications such as personal electronics.
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Scientists at the University of Eastern Finland have found a solution to a problem concerning the low electric conductivity of new materials used in Li-ion batteries.

Rapidly growing energy storage method

Lithium-ion batteries are a rapidly growing energy storage method due to their high energy density, especially in mobile applications such as personal electronics and electric cars.

However, the materials currently used in Li-ion batteries are expensive, difficult to handle and dispose of. Additionally, batteries using these materials have relatively short lifetimes. That is why new materials are being developed for the next generation Li-ion batteries.

New materials are being developed for the next generation li-ion batteries because the old ones used, such as lithium cobalt oxide, are expensive and difficult to handle.

One promising material pair is lithium titanate countered by lithium iron phosphate. The raw materials for these components are readily available, safe to use and easy to dispose of or recycle. Batteries manufactured using these materials also have significantly longer cycle and calendar lifetimes compared to the current battery technology. However, the main problem of these materials is their low electric conductivity.

“The electric conductivity problem can be solved by producing nanosized, high surface area crystalline materials, or by modifying the material composition with highly conductive dopants. We have succeeded in doing both for lithium titanate (LTO) in a simple, one-step gas phase process developed here at the UEF Fine Particle and Aerosol Technology Laboratory,” says researcher Tommi Karhunen.

The new producing method would open up new possibilities for utilising Li-ion batteries as well as lengthen their lifetime.

“The electrochemical performance of Li-ion batteries made out of the above mentioned material is very promising. The electrochemical properties were studied in collaboration with professor Ulla Lassi’s group from Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius. The most important applications lie in batteries featuring, for example, fast charging required for electric buses, or high power needed for hybrid and electric vehicles,” says Professor Jorma Jokiniemi, director of the Fine Particle and Aerosol Technology Laboratory.

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