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Battery breakthrough could allow electric cars to go 1,000 km on single charge

Battery breakthrough could allow electric cars to go 1,000 km on single charge

A lithium-ion battery breakthrough using tiny silicon particles and a gel polymer may lead to electric vehicles that can travel around 1000 km, or over 600 miles, on a single charge, scientists say.

Drivers have consistently reported suffering from range anxiety – or fear about how long a car’s battery will last – as one of the main reasons preventing their complete switch to electric vehicles.

To counter this fear, research teams across the world are exploring new electrode designs to boost electric vehicle (EV) battery capabilities.

Researchers have been attempting to use silicon as an electrode material in lithium-ion batteries for EVs due to its high charge storage capacity.

However, this has remained a challenge as silicon expands by more than three times during charging, and contracts back to its original size while discharging, severely damaging the efficiency and structural integrity of batteries.

The expansion issue of large silicon particles can become pronounced during battery operation, posing limitations for its use as an electrode material.

South Korean scientists have now developed a “next-generation” high-energy-density lithium-ion battery system that uses tiny silicon particles and gel polymer electrolytes.

The gel electrolyte within the battery is a crucial component facilitating the movement of charged particles between the positive and negative terminals – anode and cathode.

Unlike the typically used liquid electrolytes, gel electrolytes are either in a solid or gel state with an elastic polymer structure that has better stability than their liquid counterparts.

Researchers made chemical links between the gel and the tiny silicon particles that disperse the internal stress caused by volume expansion during the battery’s operation.

“The resultant intertwined system displayed outstanding properties, notably in mitigating volumetric expansion while delivering high ionic conductivity.,” scientists wrote.

While the new “cost-effective” gel electrolyte system exhibited conductivity similar to conventional batteries using liquid electrolytes, it also came with a nearly 40 per cent improvement in energy density, according to the study.

“We used a micro-silicon anode, yet, we have a stable battery. This research brings us closer to a real high-energy-density lithium-ion battery system,” study co-author Soojin Park said.

The findings, according to researchers, highlight the potential of this new method to enhance energy densities in future batteries.

They say the research can revolutionise energy storage systems and may help EVs that currently travel around 700 km on a single charge reach up to 1000 km in range.