People who wear lab coats somewhere in Illinois (Argonne, to be exact) have reportedly developed a lithium-ion battery that’s capable of storing 30 percent more energy while at the same time being safer than current lithium-ion batteries.
Here’s how it all works, according to MIT’s Technology Review…
The Argonne researchers have improved the performance of the positive electrodes by increasing the chemical and structural stability of the materials already used in laptop batteries. In conventional lithium-ion batteries, which have cobalt oxide electrodes, a small amount of overheating, caused by overcharging the material or by electrical shorts inside a battery, can lead to rapidly increasing temperatures inside the cell and, in some cases, combustion. That’s because, as the material overheats, the cobalt oxide readily gives up oxygen, which reacts with the solvent in the battery’s electrolyte and generates more heat, feeding the reactions. The Argonne researchers addressed this problem by replacing some of the cobalt oxide with manganese oxide, which is chemically more stable.
Ah, so that was it all along — we just needed to replace some cobalt oxide with some manganese oxide. I have a whole jar of low-fat manganese oxide in my fridge.