Enhancing energy storage in batteries paves the way for electric vehicles

A group, led by the University of Bath, has reached a significant landmark towards enhancing energy storage in lithium-ion batteries, and increasing electric vehicle range in the future.

A consortium led by the University of Bath has been exploring ways to improve the storage capacity of batteries. The researchers have made a crucial step forward in producing higher energy density lithium-ion batteries, with hopes that this will pave the way for expanding the range of electric vehicles available in the future.

As part of the Faraday Institution CATMAT project, scientists based at the University of Oxford researching next-generation cathode materials have important progress in understanding oxygen-redox processes involved in lithium-rich cathode materials.

Strategies that offer possible ways to increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries have been outlined in a paper published in Nature Energy.

In order to increase the range of electric vehicles, it is necessary to enhance the capacity of battery materials and ensure they can store more charge at higher voltages, thus achieving a higher energy density.

There is currently a limited number of ways to improve the energy density of lithium-ion cathode materials, with most cathode materials layered containing transition metal oxides such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese. One current research method entails storing charge on oxide ions, on top of on the transition metal ions.

In recent years, using oxygen-redox materials to increase cathode energy density has been a favourable method, but have offered limited scope as a potential option for commercial batteries because of the largely irreversible structural changes they experience during their first charge. These changes result in a considerable drop in the voltage accessible on subsequent discharge and future cycles.

Researchers at the Faraday Institution, in collaboration with researchers at Diamond Light Source, have successfully discovered a mechanism for oxygen-redox that clarifies these structural changes.

Professor Saiful Islam, from the University of Bath’s Department of Chemistry and CATMAT Principal Investigator commented: “These findings are highly significant and are an important milestone towards increasing the range of future electric vehicles.”

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