Expanding battery capacity, even on the smallest scale, is becoming a hot topic in the energy world. When batteries last longer, you need less batteries as well as less material to create more. The problem battery engineers are facing is that the materials that hold a large amount of energy break down quickly. However, with the help of little molecular “pulleys”, the material in the batteries stays intact.
The problem with modern batteries
Batteries are normally made of graphite. Now manufacturers are using silicon because it can hold up to 5 times more energy. The problem with silicon, however, is that it expands up to 400 percent and then cracks, leaving the material useless.
Scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology noticed this problem and came up with a solution. They discovered that highly elastic binders protect the silicon. These binders, or pulleys, hold the silicon in place so it does not expand. In several tests, they found that the batteries retain 98% effectiveness and lasted just as long as batteries made with graphite.
The cost of development
This is a complicated design, so it would end up being expensive to commercialize the batteries. Although the cost going into it is large, the effectiveness of the batteries is much higher. As one of the scientists who ran the experiment, Jang Wook Choi, said, this research is important for electric vehicles, and for all applications that need more energy. He listed cell phones as a potential application - citing that their batteries could last three days instead of one.
The future of battery power
Even though they tested these batteries on a small scale, they came out almost 100% effective after going through hundreds of cycles. This is an incredible discovery for the future of electric vehicles. EV engineers can use these findings to create car batteries that last 5 times longer than the original batteries.
With this new battery design, electric cars can become even cheaper and efficient than they already are. This will help launch the world much quicker into a clean energy future.