Indiana News

New Purdue Research May Solve Lithium Battery Problems

Limiting dendrites may help your cell phone or electric car charge more quickly

3/7/2013

You know how your cell phone or mobile device doesn't seem to charge as quickly as it gets older?  New research from Purdue University may be close to solving that problem.

Listen to Ray Steele's interview with Dr. Edwin Garcia from Purdue:

A new study has led to a theory on how to control or eliminate the formation of dendrites that cause lithim-ion batteries to fail.  Dr. Edwin Garcia, an associate professor of materials engineering at Purdue, says dendrites are lithium formations that grow like tumors inside a battery as it is being recharged.  Garcia says some dendrites grow faster when exposed to the high voltages that are necessary for fast recharging.  Not only can this slow a battery's recharging speed over time, it can cause batteries to short-circuit, or in some cases burst into flames.

The research published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society theorizes that changing the chemistry of a portion of the battery may inhibit the growth of dendrites.  Another possibility is the use of rapid pulses of electricity to charge batteries rather than a constant current.  Garcia says limiting or getting rid of dendrites would lead to shorter charge times for lithium-ion batteries used in mobile devices, as well as other items like electric cars - the study was funded in part by Toyota.

While the research consists mainly of a theory and not final experimentation, Garcia says the theory has largely been confirmed in their study of lithium batteries and dendrite growth within the batteries though, as with all science, testing will continue to look for further confirmation.

@WIBC_RaySteele

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