From phones to Tesla cars, lithium-ion batteries come of age
New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) Be it smartphones, notebooks or electric cars, lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized our world, laying the foundation for a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on Wednesday while awarding the 2019 Nobel prize in Chemistry to John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino.
The Li-ion technology is currently the best performing technology for energy storage based on batteries. Li-ion batteries are used in small electronics (smartphones, laptops etc) and are also the best options for electric cars.
In the 1970s as the world stared at oil crisis, Whittingham from Binghamton University in the US, American professor and solid-state physicist Goodenough (currently at the University of Texas at Austin) and Japanese chemist Yoshino advanced the development in the field through the 1980s.
Since Lithium is the lightest metal, using lithium ions made batteries lighter.
The lithium-ion batteries were launched commercially by Sony and Asahi Kasei Corporation in 1991.
Today, the race is on among the stakeholders to find a battery that can let users enjoy time on their devices without worrying about the charge.
Researchers from the University of Alberta recently developed a new battery technology that could provide 10 times more charge capacity compared to the lithium-ion power packs.
This battery technology utilizes silicon nanoparticles as an electrode for the lithium-ion batteries. Silicon is abundant, and the substance only costs around a third of the price of high-purity graphite, which sells for more than $10,000 per metric ton.
Going forward, smartphones will sport graphene batteries that charge swiftly, and will mark a quantum leap from the fast charging technologies and the current default of lithium-ion batteries.
When it comes to electric cars, Elon Musk-run Tesla has achieved great deal of efficacy in this field and is now aiming to create a lithium-ion battery that can run a car or an electric truck for over 16 lakh kms.
Current Tesla cars can achieve about 8 lakh kms out of their batteries before they face any serious problem.
A new research paper from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada has claimed the Jeff Dahn-led team is close to creating a lithium-ion battery that can run a car for over 1 million (over 16 lakh) miles.
For more than a decade, Tesla engineers have been obsessed with making the world's most efficient electric vehicles.
As a result, Tesla vehicles already travel farther on a single charge than any other production EV on the market.
Model S and Model X cars can achieve nearly 600 kms and 525 kms per charge on a 100 kWh battery pack.
Tesla's choice of cylindrical cells sets it apart from other EV players. The company also uses a liquid-cooled thermal management system to manage battery temperatures whereas other automakers take a more economical air-cooling approach.
By adjusting the temperature of the battery pack, Tesla is able to ensure that cells are operating in their most efficient and optimal states, thereby maximizing battery longevity as well as performance.
It has been argued that lithium will be one of the main objects of geopolitical competition in a world running on renewable energy and dependent on batteries.
Current research areas for lithium-ion batteries include life extension, energy density, safety, cost reduction and charging speed, among others.
Research has also been under way in the area of non-flammable electrolytes as a pathway to increased safety based on the flammability and volatility of the organic solvents used in the typical electrolyte.