Renewable Battery Performance Improvements

Nihar Hirani our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 15 May 2019

A new research development has promoted the potential to improve battery performance and charging speed of lithium-ion batteries. The applications of these energy stores are used across a range of consumer electronics, solar grid storage, and electric vehicles.


One of the largest struggles in encouraging electric vehicles (EV’s) purchases is the issues surrounding battery charging duration. New research from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the US has discovered a new method that could allow these batteries to charge in a matter of minutes without compromising capacity. The team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has published their scientific breakthrough in Nature Communications, A lithium-ion battery charges and discharges as lithium ions move between the device’s anode and cathode. In a traditional lithium-ion battery, the anode is made of graphite and the cathode from lithium cobalt oxide. These materials perform well together, but researchers at Rensselaer believe the function can be enhanced. The research produced saw corresponding author Nikhil Koratkar and team substitute cobalt oxide with vanadium disulphide (VS2).


“The way to make batteries better is to improve the materials used for the electrodes,” said Nikhil “What we are trying to do is make lithium-ion technology even better in performance.” Experimenting with alternative materials is the current focus in improving overall performance ability in batteries. The renewable power implications of this discovery could increase sales demand, promoting a potential need for power and renewables staffing across the globe.   


Previously, the instability related to VS2 has been continually challenged. This is a characteristic that would be associated with a short battery life, and has implicated the material from being a viable application to improving lithium-ion batteries. The Rensselaer team have now explored and established the cause of the instability and how to control it. Silicon Republic explain that the researchers discovered that lithium insertion caused an asymmetry in the spacing between vanadium atoms – known as a Peierls distortion – which was responsible for the break-up of the VS2 flakes. They discovered that covering the flakes with a nanolayered coating of titanium disulphide (TiS2) prevents this distortion and stabilises VS2 flakes to improve the performance of batteries. This provided mechanical support to the material, meaning that VS2 can now be stabilized, providing the opportunity for performance optimization.


The team then found as described by Science Daily, that the combined materials small size and weight could further promote battery improvement by producing a more compact battery. Companies that require solar grid storage could benefit from these findings immensely, as it offers a reduced space requirement whilst maintaining capacity. The sector as a whole could also expand, as demands for space availability are common issues. Renewable recruitment could be set to expand, offering a selection of roles based on future demands.


Electric vehicles have limited sales due to issues surrounding charging. Batteries that charge in minutes offer new interest and viable practicality in the automotive sector. Engineering could explore new ventures across the globe, whilst increasing environmentally positive actions through the development of electric vehicles. The potential lightweight features could further apply to a range of vehicles outside of cars.


Potential can also be found in the prospect of solar powered cars. The popularity of solar power and renewable energy is on the rise, providing an environmentally friendly form of energy that can power a multitude of technologies, including transportation methods. With an increased in battery charge time, solar power charging cars can offer practical carbon free transport methods. The use of this new research can improve solar power engineering, and the viability of environmentally friendly methods of transport.


The positive results of this research could have world-wide implications, promoting the use of electric batteries across a multitude of functions within engineering and consumer disciplines. 

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