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TU Delft Researchers Explore Relationship of Electrode Particle Size to Performance in Li-Ion Batteries

Researchers at Delft University of Technology have developed a technique to understand how nanostructuring can affect the performance of Li-ion batteries. The research findings have recently been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Although lithium-ion batteries are currently the smallest and lightest way to store as much rechargeable electrical energy as possible, the batteries tend to be slow to charge and discharge—an issue for application in hybrid and electric vehicles. Sluggish performance in li-ion batteries is largely determined by the relatively long distance the lithium-ions have to travel through the electrode material in the battery.

The speed at which the ions make their way through the electrode material is also slow compared to that in electrolyte.

The current strategy to improve performance is to nanostructure the electrode particles—to make them very small, and by doing so to shorten the existing route within the electrode material. The battery performance of materials nanostructured in this way has failed to meet expectations, according to the research team.

The researchers at Delft University of Technology’s Reactor Institute Delft (RID) used neutron-diffraction research technology to investigate the particle size dependence of insertion reactions for lithiated anatase TiO2, and discovered that when the electrode particles are scaled down, the properties of the material structure change significantly. The phase balance that is generally present in this type of material changes and even disappears completely if the electrode sections become small enough.

Based on these findings, the researchers can predict how the nanostructures will affect the performance of the Li-ion batteries. They have concluded that the performance of nanostructured electrode materials in Li-ion batteries is largely dependent on the material and the exact particle size. At a more general level, their findings are important for applications in which small ions diffuse into nanocrystals, such as hydrogen storage and the formation of alloys.




So somebody pooint them toward Altair. Their lithium titanate battery recharges in 10 minutes and maintains a battery life of 12 years!

Ron Fischer

Rick: Delft U may be catching up to what Altair already knows about particle size dependency. Hard to tell. Certainly its good to see basic battery research going on at universities instead of behind closed doors in corporate research. Public, scientific debate about the state of the art is more likely to get companies trying to innovate to keep up.


An interesting question. Did Altair have the basic science or did they find their material through serendipity?


I agree with Ron here. I believe that private industry (altair) was ahead of the curve (academia) on this one.

"dependence of insertion reactions for lithiated anatase TiO2, and discovered that when the electrode particles are scaled down, the properties of the material structure change significantly."

That sentance gives me a lot more confidence in Altair's technology. Now they just need to scale up production.


I believe this is really more about all those federal grants (your and my tax money) floating around and less about any real science. Hummm.... I smell BBQ.

Anyway, there are already several private companies researching nanotech batteries and some like A123 and to a lesser extent Altair already have products on the market.


Corporate Welfare=Pork,nothing else


private industry's approach to date has been that described in the 4th paragraph. this approach doesn't involve any change in the material's structure...just its size. the Delft work is differentiated by the fact that structure and size have changed. note also that the Delft work involved only titanium oxide (formula - TiO2) whereas Altair works with lithium titanium oxide (formula - Li4Ti5O12).


error on my earlier post...scratch that last sentence. correct version is that the two forms of lithium titanium oxide are different...Delft's is LixTiO2 (lithiated titanium oxide) whereas Altair's is Li4Ti5O12 (lithium titanate spinel)

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Edward Son

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