Increasing lithium-ion battery power with nano-sponge

Posted Nov 21, 2018 by Tim Sandle
The use of a nano-porous silicon material has enabled researchers to boost the power of lithium-ion batteries by around 50 percent. This is through improving the uptake of lithium ions within the battery.
File photo: Electric car being charged in Amsterdam.
File photo: Electric car being charged in Amsterdam.
Ludovic Hirlimann / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The development comes from the organization RGS, which is located in the Netherlands. The company’s researchers have produced something called E-magy, which is a nano-porous silicon. The application of the material improves the uptake of lithium ions and accommodates swelling during charging cycles, leading to an upswing in battery power and efficiency.
The silicon is used in the anode of lithium-ion batteries to enhance their capacity, up to fifty percent in terms of additional capacity. As to what this means, for an electric vehicle this would push the range above 500 kilometers without the need for additional batteries to be fitted into the vehicle.
The development fits in with the overall technological consensus of replacing carbon-based batteries with lithium-ion ones. The additional of silicon leads to even greater efficiencies.
One aspect that has been troubling developers of silicon batteries is due to detrimental swelling effects during charging the battery. This means that while power capacity is increased, the lifetime of the battery decreases.
This has been overcome with the E-magy nano-porous silicon material. The material has been developed as to absorb the lithium-ions during battery cycling, a factor based on the material’s inner porosity which prevents outside swelling of the battery anode.
Speaking with EE News Europe, Dr. Erik Kelder, Associate Professor Applied physics at Delft University, who helped with the research: “RGS has achieved an excellent process for scaling up micro sized silicon particles with a nano structured morphology, suitable for the next generations of Li-ion batteries.”
He adds: “This combination of structures prevents many obstacles and safety issues encountered with micron or nano sized silicon alone, and will maintain its quality during charging and discharging.”
In terms of what such batteries can be used for, the main applications will be with e-mobility, electronics and large utility storage battery applications.