Scientists double the capacity of rechargeable lithium batteries

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) – New research results presented today could bring companies such as Intel much closer to that goal of offering notebooks that achieve a battery running time of 8 hours and more.

Researchers of the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory claim to have developed an enhanced approach to building of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

Scheduled for an unveiling at the meeting of the Electrochemical Society today, the new technology is based on a “manganese-rich” nano-crystalline, layered-composite structure that is used as material for the positive electrode. According to an early announcement, the researchers are using a uses a two-component "composite" structure: An active component for charge storage is embedded in an inactive component that stabilizes the structure.

First test results are promising: The scientists claim that the new materials yielded record charge-storage capacities of more than 250 mAh/g or more than twice the capacity of materials used in rechargeable lithium batteries today.  In addition to the capacity advantage, the presenters also say that manganese-rich systems are cheaper to manufacture than today’s cobalt and nickel versions of lithium batteries.

According to a press release, the technology could be used in virtually all lithium-based rechargeable batteries – and improve the battery life for example in consumer electronics, laptops, medical devices and even hybrid electric vehicles.

It was unclear if and when the technology could go into mass production.