Researchers a step closer to recyclable, fire-safe lithium metal batteries


In our increasingly electrified society, advancement of energy storage technology and how it adapts to the growing demand is the need of the times.

In order to serve this, lithium-ion batteries, which is already essential to a number of technology will require dramatic enhancements in terms of safety, high-energy density, temperature resilience, and environmental sustainability in order to provide the type of emission-free future that is envisioned.

A team of researchers have demonstrated liquefied gas electrolytes that can simultaneously provide all four required properties.

The research undertaken between University of Chicago and Meng’s University of California provides a path to fire-extinguishing, sustainable, state-of-the-art batteries that can be developed at scale.

The work is published in Nature Energy.

Earlier in 2017, a team of researchers at University of California discovered hydrofluorocarbon molecules that liquefy under certain temperature and are gases at room temperature. Later, the researchers invented a new type of electrolyte called Liquefied Gas Electrolyte.

The results of the research is published in Science.

Importantly, the liquefied gas electrolyte widens choice of electrolyte solvent molecules. The filtered difluoromethane and fluromethane small molecules have fast kinetics, low melting point, and wide voltage window.

The combination of co-solvents make liquefied gas electrolytes feature low-temperature performance, high performance of high-voltage cathodes, and Li metal Coulombic efficiency.

However, liquefied gas electrolyte is not yet perfect due to saturated vapor pressure of molecules used is high, and like most electrolytes is flammable, which makes the safety and environmental protection of the system questionable.

Chemically, as a gas molecule, dimethyl ether can only be used in liquefied gas. The working of the molecule is subject to pressurized system, and it may provide better lithium metal stability and interface and maintains fast kinetics at the same time.

Edward Turner

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