An aluminum-based anode makes lithium batteries safer at extreme temperatures.

Many of the performance problems of lithium batteries are the result of being charged or discharged outside of their optimum operating temperature. In addition to meeting safety standards, resisting long charge and discharge cycles and offer the maximum density of energy possible, they must also be able to withstand operating temperatures in extreme climates.

Battery performance depends on keeping it within an optimal temperature range. The high temperatures They occur when the traction system is being fed or when it is being recharged, especially at fast recharging stations. If this also occurs in very hot climates, they can be the cause of a premature degradationreducing the useful life of the battery, which loses its energy capacity sooner than expected.

The low temperatures they are responsible for very slow charging and a significant reduction in energy capacity. They affect electrochemical reactions within cells, to which the battery management system responds by limiting the rate of charge to prevent internal damage.

Researchers at the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology have found a solution to make lithium-ion batteries function optimally below 0ºC and above 50ºC. In more detail, what the Shenzen scientists have developed is a new composite material for the anode of batteries whose main component is the aluminum. By pairing this new anode with different cathode materials, tests verified that batteries for different applications can be created without being affected by extreme temperatures.

“Due to the high theoretical capacity of the aluminum-based anode material, the energy density of this new battery is between 13% and 25% higher than that offered by traditional lithium batteries,” says research director Tang Yongbing. In the press release, it is noted that in the tests carried out, the devices were capable of operating from -70ºC to 80ºC. According to Tang, the good electrical conductivity of the aluminum-based composite anode also allows the battery to build up a full charge in 20 minutes.

Another problem that is also solved with the inclusion of this material in the anode is the formation of dendrites, a drawback common to all lithium batteries that is a consequence of continuous cycling. It affects the charging capacity and can perforate the separator that is placed between the electrodes, forming a short circuit, which can cause thermal leakage that can be complicated until the battery catches fire.

With the aluminum-based anode, the new batteries can effectively prevent the generation of lithium dendrites under low temperature and overcharge conditions, thus improving performance and above all, safety.

Apart from the experimental test with a prototype battery cell, the researchers also studied the mass production of lithium batteries with this new anode. Execution analyzes showed that up to 99.11% of production and 99% of all processes met industry standards.

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