The new composition for fluorine-containing electrolytes promises to maintain high battery charging performance for future electric vehicles even at sub-zero temperatures. (Image by Shutterstock.)
Topics: Battery, Chemistry, Climate Change, Global Warming, Lithium, Materials Science
Scientists developed a new and safer electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries that work as well in sub-zero conditions as it does at room temperature.
Many owners of electric vehicles worry about how effective their batteries will be in very cold weather. Now new battery chemistry may have solved that problem.
In current lithium-ion batteries, the main problem lies in the liquid electrolyte. This key battery component transfers charge-carrying particles called ions between the battery’s two electrodes, causing the battery to charge and discharge. But the liquid begins to freeze at sub-zero temperatures. This condition severely limits the effectiveness of charging electric vehicles in cold regions and seasons.
To address that problem, a team of scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories developed a fluorine-containing electrolyte that performs well even in sub-zero temperatures.
“Our research thus demonstrated how to tailor the atomic structure of electrolyte solvents to design new electrolytes for sub-zero temperatures.” — John Zhang, Argonne group leader.
“Our team not only found an antifreeze electrolyte whose charging performance does not decline at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit, but we also discovered, at the atomic level, what makes it so effective,” said Zhengcheng “John” Zhang, a senior chemist and group leader in Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering division.
This low-temperature electrolyte shows promise of working for batteries in electric vehicles, as well as in energy storage for electric grids and consumer electronics like computers and phones.
An electric vehicle battery for all seasons, Joseph E. Harmon, Argonne National Labs