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Nobel Peace Prize Winner Has Massive Breakthrough In Battery Tech, Impacting EV's & Consumer Devices

Lithium-ion batteries are not perfect: their capacity diminishes over time, shortening their useful life. A recent discovery appears to be a game-changer for battery tech: using niobium instead of lithium to conserve the capacity of the batteries used in electric cars and consumer electronics.

By Dana Donovick | Co-Founder Disrupting & ChargeTalk

📧 Dana@Disrupting.news

Twitter: @DanaDonovick

The batteries of our favorite consumer electronic devices like our iPhone & laptops, as well as electric vehicles lose anywhere between 10% -18% energy capacity before the battery's first recharge. As Oak Ridge National Laboratory explains, the reasons for this are found in the degradation that its chemistry undergoes and in the impurities that are created in the first charge and discharge cycle.

In order to solve this handicap to lithium-ion batteries, Stanley Whittingham, the chemist who invented lithium batteries in the late 1970s – an achievement for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in his specialty in 2019 -tackled this 40 year old problem with a team of researchers who have found a way to slow down this degradation using Niobium.

The atoms of Niobium have the ability to stabilize the surface and, consequently, reduce these losses that occur from the first charging cycle. This has been achieved as the temperature rises, driving the manganese atoms into the cathode to improve their long-term retention capacity. Stanley Whittingham and his team have been able to verify this phenomenon after 250 cycles, the retention of capacity was 93.2%.

It is, therefore, a discovery of great potential. Changing the design of lithium batteries by substituting manganese atoms for niobium atoms to shape a coating with this material would mean an increase in initial capacity and a brake on gradual degradation. Something especially important in solutions where high storage density is essential, such as consumer electronic, like your iPhone, laptop, tablet and of course, electric cars.

In addition, at the manufacturing level do not change current processes: The introduction of the niobium into the cathodes can be done using the same techniques that are used to shape the NMC811 cathodes.

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