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Lithium Iron Oxide Rechargeable Batteries Have Been Developed In The United States

- Dec 24, 2018 -

Researchers at argonne national laboratory have teamed up with wolverton's team at northwestern university to develop rechargeable lithium-ion iron oxide batteries, foreign media reported. Lithium ions move more than the usual lithium cobalt oxide batteries because of their larger capacity, which extends the battery life of electric cars. Through numerical calculation, wolverton and Yao discovered a new formula, and the chemical reaction of the formula is reversible. First, the team replaced cobalt with iron, the cheapest metal on the periodic table. Then, through calculation, they found the correct balance of lithium, iron and oxygen ions, so that oxygen ions and iron ions can promote a reversible reaction at the same time, without causing oxygen to escape.

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Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have teamed up with the Wolverton team at northwestern university to develop the rechargeable lithium-iron-oxide battery. The lithium ions in the lithium cobalt oxide rechargeable battery, for example, move more than the counterpart of the common lithium-cobalt oxide battery, due to its larger battery capacity, extending the battery life of the electric vehicle.

The study, supported by the Energy Frontier Research Center program at the department of Energy, was published in Nature Energy. Wolverton and Yao are responsible for computing research and development, while argonne lab is responsible for the experimental part of the research.

During the charging and discharging process of the battery, lithium ions will move back and forth between the anode and cathode. When the battery is charged, the lithium ions return to the anode and are stored there. The battery's cathode is made from a compound containing lithium ions, transition metal and oxygen.

Cobalt is often used as the transition metal, and lithium ions are highly efficient at storing and releasing electrical energy as they move back and forth between the anode and cathode. The capacitance of the cathode is limited by the number of electrons in the transition metal.

Lithium cobalt oxide batteries have been on the market for 20 years, but after regular long-term research, researchers have found a cheaper, more powerful rechargeable battery. Wolverton's team used two new strategies to improve the performance of ordinary lithium-ion cobalt batteries: replacing cobalt with iron and forcing oxygen into chemical reactions.

If oxygen can be stored and electricity released, the battery's power will naturally rise, allowing more lithium ions to be stored and used. Although other research groups have done similar work, few have succeeded.

Through numerical calculation, wolverton and Yao discovered a new formula, and the chemical reaction of the formula is reversible. First, the team replaced cobalt with iron, the cheapest metal on the periodic table. Then, through calculation, they found the correct balance of lithium, iron and oxygen ions, so that oxygen ions and iron ions can promote a reversible reaction at the same time, without causing oxygen to escape.

What's more, the battery starts with four lithium ions instead of one, which will increase the battery's capacity. Iron and oxygen drive the battery to react, allowing the four lithium ions to move back and forth between the anode and cathode.

Wolverton applied for a patent. The team will then use other compounds to see if the strategy still works.