Nickel-Rich Cathode Degradation Unlocked

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Extending the lifetime of cathodes in lithium EV batteries has remained an unsolved mastery until now. Scientists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory may however be on the way to solving it. That’s because they say they have nickel-rich cathode degradation licked. If they can get their idea to market, we could see more affordable and better-performing EV batteries appear.

How Research into Nickel-Rich Cathode Degradation Began

nickel-rich cathode degradation

Research Team Team: Brookhaven National Laboratory

The Brookhaven National Laboratory is 60 miles east of NYC on the site of a 1947 US Army base. Nowadays, 2,750 scientists and engineers on the 5,300-acre campus conduct high-level research there.

Popular themes include nuclear and high energy physics, energy science and technology, environmental and bioscience, nanoscience, and national security. In this instance, the goal of a small, four-person team was to develop a new lithium-based battery. They decided to tackle the cathode first. Because they hoped to enable EV vehicles to deliver the same reliability as gas.

Cathode Degradation is a Complex Problem

Cathode materials can degrade in several ways, says paper author chemist Enyuan Hu. However the consequences of nickel-rich cathode degradation are mainly capacity fading. Therefore this means a reduction in the battery’s charge-discharge capacity after use.

nickel-rich cathode degradation

Comparitive Stress Levels: Image by Purdue University

They analyzed every nano-second in a nickel-lithium battery’s charge / discharge cycle using x-ray microscopy. Their main finding was “Some nickel within the particle maintained an oxidized state, and likely deactivated. While the nickel on the surface was irreversibly reduced, decreasing its efficiency.” The team wondered how to manage these differences in the oxidation states of the nickel atoms.

They decided to synthesize a hollowed structure, and confirmed this improved things experimentally, and through calculations. “We work in a development cycle,” they told Science Daily. “You develop the material, then you characterize it to gain insights. Thus it’s a pathway to continuous improvement.”

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Preview Image: Brookhaven National Laboratory

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Richard

I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will not deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time. My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast. I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned. Richard Farrell

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