Researcher Claims New Battery Design Could Double Range, Battery Life

From ExtremeTech: PR blasts about supposed innovation in battery design pour into ET’s mailbox like water into the Titanic, but a recent story about an MIT grad who founded a battery company is worth paying attention to. Qichao Hu is the CEO of SolidEnergy, a company that’s been working to improve lithium-ion energy density for the past five years.

SolidEnergy’s technology works by substituting a thin lithium foil for the larger anode used in most lithium-ion batteries. This solves one problem, by shrinking the battery form factor by ~50 percent, but it creates others. As originally designed, the battery only worked above 80C, which makes it a non-starter for most commercial applications. Pang appears to have solved this problem by adding phosphorous and sulfur to the electrolyte, which forms a thin shield over the lithium metal electrode, protecting it from forming dendrites under use. According to Hu, “Combining the solid coating and new high-efficiency ionic liquid materials was the basis for SolidEnergy on the technology side.”

Will we see this technology come to market any time soon? I don’t know, but if it performs as advertised, we may. Battery capacity is the biggest single problem in many device designs; lithium-ion energy capacity has not nearly kept pace with device hunger. Removing the anode gives such a capacity boost, it could be a net positive even if the first commercial designs are below the predicted energy density.

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