Lithium metal batteries have a habit of overheating if they suffer damage or do not perform the way the maker intended. When this happens, the electrolyte may catch fire and this is difficult to extinguish. Now researchers at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory have found a way to fire-proof the electrolyte by adding salt.
How Adding Salt Does the Trick
The new, experimental electrolyte comprises added salt, and an inert flame retardant material. The scientific names are lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide and triethyl phosphate/bis(2,2,2-trifluoroethyl for the record.
More importantly, the added chemicals form highly-concentrated salt clusters that coat the anode with a layer of lithium deposits. These then stop dendrites in their tracks effectively extinguishing safety concerns. However – and this is the really significant part – the lithium metal anode continues to perform normally with a 99.2% efficiency.
One Step Closer to Lithium-Metal EV Batteries
Adding salt this way brings us “one step closer to using lithium metal batteries in practical applications for electric vehicles. These findings may also help the development of similar, less expensive electrolytes.
“These could improve the performance and safety of other battery types,” says Ji-Guang (Jason) Zhang of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This is because some researchers believe lithium metal batteries are potentially the perfect solution. Now it seems they may have the opportunity to prove their theory. If they can bring a full-size version to the market, that is.
A workable way to pack more energy into electric vehicle batteries by adding salt will be an important milestone. Because battery designs have been lagging behind their potential applications. This new discovery could help begin the gradual cooling of the earth to pre-industrial revolution levels.
If so, then the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory announcement on September 27, 2018 is a stepping stone of note. Will our descendants look back and say “that was the day those fossil fools finally cracked the code?”
Preview Image: Artist’s Illustration of the Technology