Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Tesla’s Canadian research partners on the trail of energy-dense Li-ion battery cells

By David Schwartz
Published: August 12th, 2019

Conventional wisdom in the battery industry holds that solid-state products will rule the future. But researchers at two Canadian universities that are partnering with Telsa have unveiled a path to more energy-dense Li-ion cells that could shift research away from solid-state.

The research was presented in a paper published in Nature by Jeff Dahn’s research team at Dalhousie University, Tesla Canada’s R&D group, and the University of Waterloo. Dahn is considered a pioneer in Li-ion battery cells and is credited with helping to increase their life cycle as well as their commercialization. His work now focuses mainly on increasing energy density and durability while decreasing the cost.

In 2016, Dahn research group transitioned from a 20-year research agreement with 3M to a new deal with Tesla under the newly formed NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research program.

Under that agreement, Tesla invested in a new research lab close to Dahn’s group near Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Since then, the research team has filed a number of patents with the electric carmaker, including a recently filed patent for technology designed to prevent cell failure in Tesla vehicles. The just-published paper’s abstract describes the team’s new findings:

“Cells with lithium-metal anodes are viewed as the most viable future technology, with higher energy density than existing lithium-ion batteries. Many researchers believe that for lithium-metal cells, the typical liquid electrolyte used in lithium-ion batteries must be replaced with a solid-state electrolyte to maintain the flat, dendrite-free lithium morphologies necessary for long-term stable cycling. Here, we show that anode-free lithium-metal pouch cells with a dual-salt LiDFOB/LiBF4 liquid electrolyte have 80% capacity remaining after 90 charge-discharge cycles, which is the longest life demonstrated to date for cells with zero excess lithium.”

In simpler terms, the researchers say they’ve solved the problem that comes with replacing the conventional graphite anode with lithium metal without having to use solid-state electrolytes.

If successful, it would result in the commercialization of more energy-dense and long-lasting cells on a much quicker timeline than what is believed achievable with solid-state batteries.

With the prototype cells proving successful so far, the team believes that “continued success may ultimately shift the focus for enabling lithium-metal batteries from solid-state electrolytes back towards all-liquid electrolytes.”

Source: electrek

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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