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Report: Development of Single Crystals of Lithium Cobalt Oxide Could Lead to 10X Li-ion Battery Capacities in 10 Years

The Nikkei reports that a joint team headed by researchers from Tohoku University and Toyota Motor Corp. has succeeded in fabricating single crystals of lithium cobalt oxide for use as cathode material in automotive lithium-ion batteries.

In a conventional lithium-ion battery, the cathode is made from grains of unaligned polycrystal lithium cobalt oxide sintered together with grains of graphite. The graphite improves the performance of the cathode, but the trade-off is that there is less room inside the cathode for the storage of lithium ions.

To make single crystals of lithium cobalt oxide, the team uses laser deposition to fabricate a layer of amorphous lithium cobalt oxide on a sapphire substrate. It then dopes this with additional lithium and heats the film for one hour at 650 °C. The crystals in the film align in the direction of the substrate and the compound converts to a single crystal.

The researchers will next begin altering the crystal-growth parameters and studying how this changes the electrical properties of the cathode material.

According to the report, they expect it will take around 10 years to develop a cathode material that contains no graphite and that could contribute to an increase of lithium-ion battery capacity of about 10x.


The Goracle


To quote the people afraid of nuclear (carbon neutral) power: "Why even bother - it won't be ready for ten years?"

Praise be to Algore.


Roger Pham

Dear Mr. Goracle,
When it comes to nuclear power, BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID!


Why not use low energy nuclear? Not so frightening. Energetic neutrons - no radioactivity.


Goracle, it won't be ready in 20 years, or 30, or well actually no nuclear specialist can really tell when it's ready.

The problem is that the power plants that we DO know how to build are of the once through type, that burn up uranium so fast that proven world reserves will be depleted in a matter of decades.

The wonderful fast breeder reactors that are mentioned so often, tell me Goracle, where are they? There are a few test reactors but when can these be developed into a safe, energy producing, large scale, working, real-world, Homer-Simpson-proof, cost effective solution? There is no one that can tell.

Oh sure, there are enough pipe dreams scattered around the internet, but real, commercial plans? Oh no, they do not exist. The technology can only be developed with tens, if not hundreds, of billions of tax payer money.

If one thing has become abundantly clear over the past 20 years, then it is that after 50 years of pouring in huge amounts of government money, nuclear technology is still not competetive. If left on it's own, there is no company big enough and wealthy enough and stupid enough to invest. Switch off the respirator and nuclear power will silently die.



Nice idea. Can you answer a few of the obvious questions that one should ask to see if your idea is viable:

Are there any solid plans, made by serious nuclear scientists and engineers?

What's the efficiency of such a power plant, eg. how much power does it generate per ton of uranium?

Are there any test plants that you know of?

How long will it take to develop them?

What is the construction cost per MW?

How much will power from such a reactor cost?

G. R. L. Cowan

Countries that officially intend to discontinue using nuclear energy rarely actually do so. It is not subsidized. However, it does reduce governments' fossil fuel income, and government dependents apparently consider that because they are subsidized, anything that reduces government income must be too. Or they just lie.


Most electricity in France is generated by nuclear plants. They've had an excellent safety record.

We will need nuclear, fossil, hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, biomass, and chicken sh_t plants before we're done.

No amount of brawling from the eco freaks is about to change that.


at least the Goracle recognizes the words "carbon neutral". The reason France has been happy with nuclear is that they standardized and settle upon one design (as opposed to U.S. where every plant is unique). After building a few of the same reactor they were able to cut costs and get good at it, whereas we had endless astronomical cost overruns (passed onto customers, of course).



You may be correct about future energy mix. We do not have to rely on any one source.

However, we worry way too much about the e-energy required for PHEVs and BEVs. A recent study concluded, that for an advanced electrified nation, the introduction of 25% electrified vehicles would translate into a total e-power consumption increase of about 2%.

The average home could reduce the current electricity consumption by 5 to 10 Kwh/day to meet most of the need for a PHEV or BEV. Changing the current low efficiency (SEER-10) A/C for ultra high efficiency (SEER-25+) Heat Pumps + better insulation + better windows and doors could liberate most of the power required.

Overnight charging would not require any changes to the existing power grids for the next 10 years.

A few thousand distributed wind turbines would do for the next ten years.

Sun power could take over after 2020.

Another 100+ standardized nuclear plants may be required for longer term (2020+) base load needs.

Roger Pham

"No amount of brawling from the eco freaks is about to change that." (the re-emergence of nukes)

Right. What will change is that we will eventually have solar PV's on every roof and wind turbines on every farms...and harvesting of waste biomass program on every counties...and then there won't be any need for nuclear energy!



Very fast growing economies like China and India may not have too many other choices to produce all the energy that they will require to keep growing at a fast pace.

Europe is already building more nuclear power plants. Many more will be required as soon as soon as the world pulls out of the current economic recession.


How on earth did this turn into a debate about nuclear power?

Back to topic, I think the recent advance is interesting but will still face the problem of thermal runaway (ie battery fires) given the cobalt oxide based chemistry.

We need something with the safety, power and cycle life of the titanate or phosphate chemistries, but energy density of cobalt or sulphur.

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