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A team of researchers at the University of Texas have invented a new type of technology that could lead to safer, faster-charging and longer-lasting batteries for smartphones, gadgets, energy storage and electric vehicles.
The tech in question is an all-solid-state battery cell that’s low-cost, noncombustible, fast-charging and has a long cycle life and high energy density, according to a press release. The battery cell was developed by a UT engineering team led by 94-year-old Professor John Goodenough, who notably, was one of the original co-inventors of the very first lithium-ion battery. The breakthrough was also spearheaded by senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, and the team described the new battery tech in a peer-reviewed paper in Energy & Environmental Science.
“Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge, and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted. We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today’s batteries,” Goodenough said of the tech’s potential for electric vehicles.
The team’s new battery cells have been demonstrated to have at least three times the energy density of current lithium-ion batteries. This higher density could lead to increased driving range for EVs, as well as much longer-lasting mobile device batteries. The battery tech could also lead to a greater number of charging and discharging cycles — meaning the battery won’t wear out as quickly. In addition, the battery cell has a faster rate of recharge, meaning the battery could charge in minutes rather than hours.
How Does It Work?
Rather than the liquid electrolytes that modern lithium-ion batteries use, the researcher’s tech relies on glass electrolytes — which lends the cell its benefits over traditional lithium-ion systems. Notably, the team’s battery cell is the first that can operate under 60 degree Celsius, and the all-solid-state cell can even work well in subzero degree weather. Unlike other lithium-ion batteries — which can be bad for the environment — the team’s cell can substitute low-cost and widely available sodium for lithium, allowing materials to be sourced in an earth-friendly manner.
Goodenough and Braga are continuing to work on the technology, and are in the process of filing several patents. The team hopes to work with battery makers in the short term to test out their new technology in EVs and other energy storage devices, the press release states. As far as long-term goals, the new cell could not only revolutionize consumer battery tech, it could also lead to better storage options for sustainable energy sources, according to the Statesmen.