Published in Nature Communications: scientists from the CSIRO, RMIT University and Queensland University of Technology have demonstrated that pre-treating a battery’s lithium metal electrodes with an electrolyte salt solution extends the battery life and increases performance and safety.
The new technology will potentially improve the drive range and battery charge of electric vehicles, and thus help overcome a major barrier in the electric car industry - 'battery range anxiety'.
The researchers show that the charge efficiency of batteries with pre-treated lithium metal electrodes greatly exceeds standard lithium batteries.
The technology involves the immersion of lithium metal electrodes in an electrolyte bath containing a mixture of ionic liquids and lithium salts, prior to a battery being assembled.
Ionic liquids or room temperature molten salts, are a unique class of material that are clear, colourless, odourless solutions and are non-flammable. When used in batteries these materials can prevent the risk of fire and explosion, a known rechargeable battery issue.
The salt bath pre-treatment adds a protective film onto the surface of the electrode that helps stabilise the battery when in operation.
The process is transferrable to existing manufacturing processes, and CSIRO holds patents to the electrolyte solutions.
The researchers are now looking for partners to commercialise the technology.