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Energy’s Future: The new battery technology is scripting the future of energy storage

Auth Anushka Agarwal | May 14,2020

A simple battery can do marvelous things. Over the years, the depletion of non-renewable resources and the increasing dependency on them has been a distressing topic. As the population of the world is expanding rebelliously, there has been quite a strain on the consumption patterns of these resources and their exhaustive reservoirs. The biggest challenge is to keep enough energy saved, no matter, the time of day or weather. Since renewable sources of energy are not firm and constricted to their energy delivery, we need a good way to store energy for later.

In the wake of environmental concerns like global warming, landfill pollution, depleting the ozone layer, and the greenhouse effect, customers have started opting for more energy conservational solutions. AA and AAA rechargeable batteries belong to this division. Manufacturers like Smartcell batteries are slowing making their way in the market, through their affordable and powerful energy batteries.

This is where lithium-ion batteries come into the field

Lithium-ion batteries are a result of newer technologies in demand, therefore, it is more compact, has higher capacity, is safe, and rechargeable. They were discovered by an American physicist, John Goodenough, in 1980. He invented a new type of lithium battery in which Li can migrate from the anode to the cathode, as Li+ ion.

Lithium, being an alkali metal, is the lightest element in the periodic table. It is, therefore, powered with the highest scale of electrochemical potential. It can produce the highest voltages in the most compact and lightest volumes.

In this new lithium-ion battery, lithium was combined with a transition metal, like cobalt, nickel, manganese, or iron, and oxygen to form the cathode. The anode is composed of graphite. When voltage is applied, the positively charged lithium-ions from the cathode migrate to the graphite anode and becomes lithium metal. Due to the immense electrochemical power, it can oxidize again and migrate back to the cathode to become Li+ ion again. This process gives back electron to the Co ion. The movement of electrons gives the current that we use to power our devices.

These batteries are gaining widespread recognition for their ample power and their rechargeability nature. These are mostly employed in devices that require high power and need to be charged at least once a day.

Powering batteries in the second leap of Nanotechnology

Based on the transition metal used in the lithium-ion battery, such cells have a higher capacity of power and throughput use, but they are more reactive and susceptible to a common phenomenon called thermal runaway. Considering the batteries constructed by using lithium cobalt oxide, these were first produced by Sony, in the 1990s, however, they suffered from fire hazard. This concluded the search for making battery cathodes from Nano-scale material for improving their reactivity.

It was in 1990 when Goodenough again made a huge leap in the field off battery technology. He stabilized the cathode in the lithium-ion battery using lithium iron and phosphate. This made the cathode thermally stable. This finding led to nano-scale materials like lithium iron phosphate or lithium Ferro phosphate, used for constructing batteries that can be rapidly charged and discharged.

To date, there have been several new materials tested to facilitate battery performance and power them with infinite potential. Many new applications exist for these new cells, right from power tools to hybrid and electric vehicles. It’s most important application lies in the field of domestic electric energy or households.

Adding the electrical potential in vehicles: Advent of the EV generation

You must have probably heard about electric vehicles and how different companies are trying to master the technology. However, the leading manufacturer of these sorts of  battery powered vehicles is Tesla Motors. Furthermore, it plans to build giga-plants for the production of these types of batteries. There have been several innovations taking place in the same zone, the most powerful being, an impressive lithium battery pack size of 85kWh for Tesla Model S electric vehicle.

A modular and easily usable battery design must consist of battery formats that can be interchanged, to suit the needs of vehicles and its domestic applications without any urgency of redesigning and reconstruction.

The EV market is on a rapid boom and many players are testing their stand for the next generation shift in energy production and storage. According to reports, the EV market will rapidly accelerate from 2025. Once the problem associated with its charging stations is solved, car manufacturers will keep on rolling models after models. There are many reasons dominating the power of the battery in several domains. Since our non-renewable resources are in sinking deep, EV is the most probable and comfortable solution.

The production of long-lasting energy solutions is driven by the ever-improving capabilities of the humble battery. What lies ahead of the lithium-ion batteries is going to be highly promising for customers.

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