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ORNL researchers show bifunctional electrolyte boosts capacity of lithium-carbon fluoride battery by 26%

28 April 2014

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have shown that a new bi-functional electrolyte in a lithium-carbon fluoride (Li-CFx) primary battery system can generate 26% higher capacity than the theoretical maximum if each component were to act independently as well as extend the lifespan of the device.

The solid electrolyte of Li3PS4 (LPS) has dual functions: as the inert electrolyte at the anode and as an active component at the cathode. The ORNL study is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

This bi-functional electrolyte revolutionizes the concept of conventional batteries and opens a new avenue for the design of batteries with unprecedented energy density.

—Rangasamy et al.

The team demonstrated the new concept in a lithium carbon fluoride battery, considered one of the best single-use batteries because of its high energy density, stability and long shelf life. When ORNL researchers incorporated a solid lithium thiophosphate electrolyte, the battery generated a 26% higher capacity than what would be its theoretical maximum if each component acted independently. The increase, explains Liang, is caused by the cooperative interactions between the electrolyte and cathode.

As the battery discharges, it generates a lithium fluoride salt that further catalyzes the electrochemical activity of the electrolyte. This relationship converts the electrolyte—conventionally an inactive component in capacity—to an active one.

—Dr. Chengdu Liang, ORNL

The improvement in capacity could translate into years or even decades of extra life, depending on how the battery is engineered and used. Longer-lived disposable (i.e., non-rechargeable) batteries are in demand for applications such as such as artificial cardiac pacemakers, radio-frequency identification devices, remote keyless system, and sensors, where replacing or recharging a battery is not possible or desirable.

If you have a pacemaker, you don’t want to undergo surgery every 10 years to replace the battery. What if a battery could last 30 to 50 years? Our fundamental research is opening up that possibility through a new design mechanism.

—Chengdu Liang

Coauthors are ORNL’s Ezhiylmurugan Rangasamy, Juchuan Li, Gayatri Sahu, Nancy Dudney and Chengdu Liang. The work was sponsored by the Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering in DOE’s Office of Science.

The materials synthesis and characterization for the study were conducted at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. CNMS is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers supported by the DOE Office of Science, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale.

Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

Resources

  • Ezhiylmurugan Rangasamy, Juchuan Li, Gayatri Sahu, Nancy Dudney, and Chengdu Liang (2014) “Pushing the Theoretical Limit of Li-CFx Batteries: A Tale of Bifunctional Electrolyte,” Journal of the American Chemical Society doi: 10.1021/ja5026358

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