Looking to build better lithium-ion batteries, scientists have created a so called “lithium-rich” cathode which contains a high proportion of lithium compared to conventional batteries. But they are meeting issues such as a proper chemical process and the important role of the oxygen in this high energy density battery.
The latest study shows a breakthrough which could enable an understanding in creating those lithium-rich cathodes with oxygen oxidation and also enables to build a high energy density battery which could power consumer electronics for much longer than standard batteries. This study could lead to the next generation cathode materials with higher energy density than current.
The cathode material in a lithium-ion battery is defined as a transition metal such as nickel or cobalt balanced with a content of lithium. But in the lithium-rich cathode, we can observe a higher proportion of lithium than the transition metal. That also enables the reduction of the cost as transition metal is usually expensive so the less quantity the better benefit. Not only will the battery be cheaper but with the lithium-rich cathode, we can also observe a lighter battery which could e a big step for electric vehicle applications. The news seem very exciting as it’s concluded the lithium-rich cathode can deliver about 50 percent more energy than the current cathode in conventional batteries.
The study was delayed for years because of the lack of understanding the place of oxygen in the chemistry in the lithium-rich cathode. Conventionally the metal in the cathode oxidizes and releases electrons in the charge and discharging process which make the electrons move from the cathode to the anode and vice versa to create electricity. Scientists are trying to demonstrate that it’s possible to take an electron off the oxygen and put it back which led to the idea of the lithium-rich cathode design.
With the lithium-ion battery being so commonly used nowadays, the transition metals demand is very high which make the 3 most conventionally used – cobalt, nickel, and manganese difficult to get to. So with the booming of electric vehicle, scientists believe the transition metals reserve will not be enough.
Battery designers have always claimed there is a so-called disordered cathode structure, which scientists discovered as a point of work and led to the study of oxygen role in lithium-excess cathodes.
Researchers also developed a methodology which could led to accurately transfer electron charges into cathode materials. This could allow a better understanding of the oxygen oxidization and the combination with the transition metal and also a more rational approach of battery design. It can also open the doors to consider more transition metals as the chemistry could be applied easily.