DOE researchers discover way to extend lifespan of Li-ion batteries

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Revitalizing batteries by bringing ‘dead’ lithium back to life​


Islands of inactive lithium creep like worms to reconnect with their electrodes, restoring a battery’s capacity and lifespan.​
BY JENNIFER HUBER​
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University may have found a way to revitalize rechargeable lithium batteries, potentially boosting the range of electric vehicles and battery life in next-gen electronic devices.
As lithium batteries cycle, they accumulate little islands of inactive lithium that are cut off from the electrodes, decreasing the battery’s capacity to store charge. But the research team discovered that they could make this “dead” lithium creep like a worm toward one of the electrodes until it reconnects, partially reversing the unwanted process.
Adding this extra step slowed the degradation of their test battery and increased its lifetime by nearly 30%.
“We are now exploring the potential recovery of lost capacity in lithium-ion batteries using an extremely fast discharging step,” said Stanford postdoctoral fellow Fang Liu, the lead author of a study published Dec. 22 in Nature.

So, perspective on this: nominal lifespan for a typical Li-ion battery is around 1000 charge-discharge cycles. This would increase that to 1250-1300 cycles.

For an electric vehicle with a 250 mile range, 15,000 miles driven per year equates to around 60 charge-discharge cycles. That's 16 years worth of driving for 1000 cycles, which goes up to 21-22 years if the battery is "restored" using this method (this doesn't account for the shorter mileage capacity, which will drop to ~90% as the batteries age), so if you use 200 miles instead of the original 250 mile 'capacity' (more charge/discharge cycles per year at ~75), that still breaks down to >13 years that may be increased to 16-17 years of usable battery life.

Of course, systems may need to be designed with this recovery method as part of a battery health maintenance, as it may not be feasible on existing designs. Still, another step in prolonging the life of an electric vehicle to where it would clearly be as good as most ICE vehicles.
 
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hawkeyetraveler

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6.5 years into owning my model S. Still going strong - I estimate I have ~90%+ of the original range (270 miles originally, about 250 now). Further gains in battery life would be useful and help the environment, but should not be a concern for most car buyers.