As the trend of electric travel becomes more and more obvious, the demand for batteries will increase in the future. People need batteries that are more environmentally friendly, cheaper, have more storage capacity, and have a longer life. According to foreign media reports, a research team in Spain used laser technology to design the next generation of batteries.
In the EU-funded Laser4Surf project, scientists have tried to improve the stability of lithium-ion batteries. Dr. Miguel Angel Munoz-Marquez, physicist and senior physicist at the CIC energiGUNE Energy Research Center in Spain, said: "We use lasers to change the current collector surface, which is one of the battery components. These improvements can improve battery stability. To extend battery life."
All lithium-ion batteries have current collectors on both ends, coated with electrode material. These materials store lithium ions during battery operation and release them when necessary. Technically, the laser acts on the metal surface to allow the electrode to better adhere to the current collector. Prevent accidental reactions that cause the electrode to separate from the current collector. Miguel Angel Muñoz said: "With these improvements, the performance of the battery under high power loads can also be improved. We hope to use lasers to increase the surface activity of the current collector so that it can process more electrons during charge and discharge. ”
At present, lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles have shown sufficient performance. The batteries produced by different companies can drive a car for 200 to 500 kilometers without charging. But the main problem now is the price, because in the cost of the car, the battery accounts for about 40% or 50%. Muñoz said: “Technology improvements can reduce costs, as we did in the Laser4Surf project. In addition, you can use cheaper materials to save costs. If you can find a solution to extend battery life, even the price Higher is also an improvement. If the battery life can be extended, the previous investment will be rewarded."
Another important issue in the project's research is battery sustainability. In the Laser4Surf project, the researchers skipped a chemical step in the manufacturing process: the carbon coating of the current collector. On conventional lithium-ion batteries, carbon coatings can improve collector performance, such as ensuring better electrical contact between the current collector and the electrodes. Muñoz explained: “The need to change the surface of the current collector by laser can eliminate the need for chemical coatings. At the same time, laser etching improves electrical and mechanical contact, so battery performance is better.”
After the first laboratory test, Miguel Angel Muñoz was full of hope for the development of this research. He said: "In the second half of the project, we are developing a prototype that is close to the size of the mobile phone battery. This can be said to be a test before industrial production." The next step is to show the battery company the competitiveness of these discoveries. "If all goes well, in less than a decade, we can reach the scale of industrial production."
Professor Stefano Passerini of the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) said: “It is essential to improve the contact between the active material and the current collector. This is an excellent way to improve battery life and charging performance. He believes that laser technology is feasible because it costs less. However, only by calculating the benefit/cost balance can the evaluation effectiveness be truly assessed.
Despite this, Muñoz believes that this research can save companies a lot of money. Any breakthroughs will have a major impact on the battery industry and help the lab raise more money to enable it to invest more in this area.