Power Semiconductors

Material Technologies Bring Efficiency and Safety Reforms in the Lithium-ion Battery Market

27 January 2017

The quest for freedom never ends—the most important being the freedom of mobility. It is due to this pursuit that urged mankind to invent machines that could take them to unexplored domains. It is the reason that people can fly at supersonic speed or can carry out long-distance commutes or communication. The freedom of anytime and anywhere access and control drives the current trend of inventions and discoveries.

Lithium-ion storage for power crunch

The global population has witnessed a gargantuan leap toward futuristic technologies that enable the exercise of remote control, monitoring and operation through effective communications. High-speed automotive and aviation options compensate for wherever there is a need for frequent change in location of personal presence. The only problem of working with such high-fidelity technologies is that they are energy-intensive. The world faces the next level of energy crisis when it comes to the power required to keep the systems well-fed.

Research scholars and experts have undertaken various progressive approaches to building a more energy-efficient environment for systems to function. Experimenting with designs, fuel types and fuel injection have worked for some of the applications. However, the global energy communities agree that each development has its own set of limitations for the users. And so, the quest was rerouted to identify an elixir that came across as the most comprehensive solution for their floating energy needs.

The lithium-ion battery has emerged as a savior power storage technology for multiple vertical industries. At present, they form the class of mobile power source, which is compact, lightweight, long-lasting, efficient and safe. The core focus of developers has been on exploring the right component materials that can enhance the previously known levels of efficiency, energy density, standard or rapid charge time, rate of discharge and safety.

Graphene anode could increase efficiency

Post two years of intensive study and a generation of numerous graphene samples, the research team at Saint Jean Carbon Inc. has come forward with an invention of its own. The operations of the carbon science company are dedicated to the design and manufacturing of green energy storage, creation and re-creation with the use of carbon materials. On January 19, 2017, the company announced the commencement of design and production of the first-ever graphene-based lithium-ion battery. It intends to use 99.999999%gC grade material through its graphene production capabilities. A single layer of one atom-thick graphite would constitute the battery anode. This structural altercation is expected to enhance the battery performance to an extent that has not been observed to date.

“Research is being conducted around the world in the graphene space. We feel our strategy to focus on real-world applications where the graphene may play a leading role is important to the company’s growth strategy and strengthens our global positioning as a green technology company. As our battery projects continue: from spherical shaped carbon coated graphite, recycled battery materials and to now applying our graphene expertise to lithium-ion batteries, this tremendously rounds out our research,” said Paul Ogilvie, CEO, Saint Jean Carbon Inc.

One for the safety

Apart from corporate giants trying to expand their portfolios, there are several scholarly groups that are exploiting specific chemical properties of certain materials to place technological reinforcement to the technology. Soon after the recently reported literal outburst of the batteries in smartphone models, the researchers at Stanford University have come forward with a solution. The group proposes adding chemical additives that would suppress any excessive rise in internal battery temperature, or a thermal runaway. A specific limit to the highest temperature being set, the flame retardant would be released, therefore nullifying the incidence of fire within the span of 0.4 seconds.

There is a basic constructional change made by the scholarly group to the previous battery design. They have replaced the commonly used polypropylene polymer separator with fibrous triphenyl phosphate (TPP). The threads are encased within a shell of polymer poly (vinylidene fluoride-hexafluoropropylene) (PVDF-HFP). A PVDF-HFP shell prevents the potential leakage of TPP into the electrolyte and eventually degrades the battery performance. When the internal temperature crosses the 160 ° C limit, the enclosure melts away and releases the flame suppressant TPP into the electrolyte.

Both of the technology innovations have been tested for efficacy in the controlled environment so far. The scalability of these projects for high-power applications, such as electric automotive, remains to be established. The global lithium-ion battery industry has been estimated to garner revenue worth $46.21 billion by the end of 2022. Through investigative market analysis, experts project the market to register a CAGR of 10.8% through the forecast period 2016–2022. In cases where pertinent research activities continue to succeed, the market growth would experience the freedom to explore its complete potential.

About the Author

Anamika Kumari is a content writer at Allied Analytics LLP. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of modern technology on human life and the earth at large. Being a voracious reader, passionate writer, and a critical observer of market dynamics, she has a strong taste for the hidden science behind all arts.

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