Scientists at United States Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have discovered a new graphite and copper combo that can increase the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries.
Graphite is already a major component of lithium-ion batteries. The new combination shows the potential of graphite in the growing market for rechargeable batteries.
They shot graphite into an ultra-high vacuum environment with ions, which created surface defects. They then deposited copper on the graphite at an elevated temperature. The synthetic route created multilayer copper islands that were completely covered by graphene layers.
The research comes after the team encapsulated dysprosium, a magnetic rare-earth metal, underneath a single layer of graphene. Encouraged by the success, they began testing the possibilities of the method with other elements, including copper.
“Copper is a highly conductive material but susceptible to oxidation. Being able to successfully embed it just underneath the surface of graphite protects the copper, and suggests a number of potential applications, including battery technology,” said research assistant Ann Lii-Rosales.
Analysts suggest that graphite miners will benefit from the exploding demand. The increasing popularity of electric vehicles and smartphones is driving the need for more efficient rechargeable batteries. The mining industry is gearing up for the boom.
Similarly, scientists are researching new combinations and processes to make batteries more powerful. Their goal is to increase energy and battery life and decrease charging time.
Just recently, a Norwegian company called Kjeller Innovation developed a proprietary mixture of silicon and graphite that can increase battery capacity 300% compared to lithium-ion batteries.
The battery, called SiliconX, uses a specific ratio of graphite and silicon. It can let you drive over 600 miles or power your smartphone for a week on a single charge.
Kjeller Innovation says the new technology can increase battery runtime 3 to 5-fold over lithium-ion batteries. The battery is still being tested to ensure safety, performance, and compatibility with devices. The new formula will take some time to reach the market.
News source: Ames Laboratory