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In a new concept for battery cathodes nanometerscale particles made of lithium and oxygen compounds depicted in red and white are embedded in a spongelike lattice yellow of cobalt oxide which keeps them stableJu Li and his fellow researchers postdoc Zhi Zhu and five others at MIT Argonne National Laboratory and Peking University in China propose that the material could be packaged in batteries that are very similar to conventional sealed batteries yet provide much more energy for their weight Credit Courte

In a new concept for battery cathodes, nanometer-scale particles made of lithium and oxygen compounds (depicted in red and white) are embedded in a sponge-like lattice (yellow) of cobalt oxide, which keeps them stable.

Ju Li and his fellow researchers (postdoc Zhi Zhu; and five others at MIT, Argonne National Laboratory, and Peking University in China), propose that the material could be packaged in batteries that are very similar to conventional sealed batteries yet provide much more energy for their weight. Credit: Courtesy of the researchers

R&D Developments for Improvement Efforts in Energy Storage

The new concept, called a nanolithia cathode battery, is described in a paper by Ju Li, the Battelle Energy Alliance Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT.

A recent breakthrough highlighted in Science Daily, describes MIT researcher’s new concept for battery cathodes, utilizing nanometer-scale particles made of lithium and oxygen compounds. 

The new concept, called a nanolithia cathode battery, is described in a paper by Ju Li, the Battelle Energy Alliance Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT.  One of the shortcomings of lithium-air batteries, Li explains, is the mismatch between the voltages involved in charging and discharging the batteries. The batteries' output voltage is more than 1.2 volts lower than the voltage used to charge them, which represents a significant power loss incurred in each charging cycle. "You waste 30 percent of the electrical energy as heat in charging. ... It can actually burn if you charge it too fast," he says.

Overall, the new battery system is "very scalable, cheap, and much safer" than lithium-air batteries, Li says. 

While the Science Daily article also states that the team expects to move from this lab-scale proof of concept to a practical prototype within about a year, it is worth mentioning that this breakthrough, and others like it, can require many years of subsequent work after initial successful prototyping, to develop economical manufacturing processes, and address numerous other challenges, before becoming fully commercialized.

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