Nanoscoops Can Supposedly Improve Electric Automobile Batteries

Novel Nanomaterial Batteries for electric automobiles may by the need of the hour due constant advancement in technology. High-power rechargeable lithium (Li)-ion batteries are in the making due to a unique type of nanomaterial designed by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. These batteries appear beneficial in electric automobiles, as well as batteries for laptop computers, mobile phones, and other portable devices.

The newly developed material is termed as ‘nanoscoop’ because its shape resembles a cone with a scoop of ice cream on top. It can probably endure extremely high rates of charge and discharge that can trigger conventional electrodes used in today’s Li-ion batteries to rapidly deteriorate and fail. The nanoscoop apparently contains a unique material composition, structure, and size. Researchers show the way a nanoscoop electrode can be charged and discharged at a rate 40 to 60 times faster than conventional battery anodes. However, throughout the process a comparable energy density is allegedly maintained.

Nikhil Koratkar a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer, added, “Charging my laptop or cell phone in a few minutes, rather than an hour, sounds pretty good to me. By using our nanoscoops as the anode architecture for Li-ion rechargeable batteries, this is a very real prospect. Moreover, this technology could potentially be ramped up to suit the demanding needs of batteries for electric automobiles.”

This stellar performance can be probably attained by over 100 continuous charge/discharge cycles. The crafted technology may have greater significance for the design and realization of high-power, high-capacity Li-ion rechargeable batteries. Batteries for all-electric vehicles have to be supposedly delivering high power density along with abundant energy densities. Currently super capacitors are presumably employed in vehicles for gaining power-intensive functions, including starting the vehicle and rapid acceleration, in conjunction with conventional batteries that deliver high energy density for normal cruise driving and other operations. Nanoscoops reportedly enable these two separate systems to be combined into a single, more efficient battery unit.

Koratkar, explained, “Due to their nanoscale size, our nanoscoops can soak and release Li at high rates far more effectively than the macroscale anodes used in today’s Li-ion batteries. This means our nanoscoop may be the solution to a critical problem facing auto companies and other battery manufacturers – how can you increase the power density of a battery while still keeping the energy density high?”

Scientists claim that the anode structure of a Li-ion battery grows and shrinks physically as the battery charges or discharges. On charging, the addition of Li-ions may elevate the volume of the anode and while discharging develops the opposite effect. Hence, majority of the present day batteries in portable electronic devices such as handsets and laptops charge very slowly. The slow charge rate is probably intentional for guarding the battery from stress-induced damage. The built up nanoscoop is capable of withstanding this stress and quickly accept as well as discharge Li-ions. The technology has a carbon (C) nanorod base along with a thin layer of nanoscale aluminum (Al) and a ‘scoop’ of nanoscale silicon (Si).

The research is published in the journal Nano Letters.

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