Tech Briefs Magazine - August 2021 - 36

Power & Energy
Safer, Longer-Lasting, Solid-State Batteries
Solid-state batteries offer a higher level of safety and potentially longer life than
lithium-ion batteries.
Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Illinois
major challenge with solid-state
batteries is increasing the diffusivity
of Li-ions in the solid-state electrolyte,
which is typically slower than in
the liquid organic electrolytes now
used in lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.
Research ers have enhanced the mobility
of Li-ions in solid-state batteries
using the paddlewheel effect, which is
the coordinated motion of atoms.
Solid-state batteries, using solid electrolytes
in place of the usual liquid
organic electrolytes, have emerged as
promising replacements for today's Liion
batteries. They offer the potential
of safer and longer-lasting batteries
that can deliver higher energy density
that is important to a variety of electrochemical
energy storage applications
such as vehicles, robots, and drones.
An unwanted chemical reaction
called the thermal runaway reaction has
led to fires and explosions involving
today's Li-ion batteries, which continue to
burn until they run out of fuel. Because of
these hazards, researchers seek to elimiA
Li+
SO
-2
4
mally static negative ions (anions) in
the solid-state electrolyte framework
that help drive the motion of the Li+
positive ions (cations). The anion
build ing blocks that comprise the
solid framework are not rigid but un -
dergo rotational motion. The anion
dynamics can be turned on even at
room temperature by tuning the
framework and the anion dynamics
are strongly coupled to cation diffusion
by the paddlewheel effect. This
is somewhat similar to the transport
of people through a multi-person re -
volving door.
The paddlewheel effect: Above a certain temperature,
SO4
Li cations become highly mobile. In certain solid electro -
lytes, altering the chemical composition enables anion
rotation and the paddlewheel effect below room temperature.
(Image: Argonne National Laboratory)
nate the internal liquid organic electrolyte
by replacing it with a solid.
The researchers addressed a phenomenon
that dramatically speeds up ion
diffusion: the rotational motion of nor-2
anions begins to rotate and simultaneously, nearby
While new solid electrolytes are
still in the developmental stage, the
advances are encouraging. A solidstate
electrolyte enabling fast Li+
cation motion could be a drop-in re -
placement for liquid organic electrolytes
and immediately rid batteries of
the thermal runaway reaction that causes
fire in today's Li-ion batteries.
For more information, contact George
Crabtree at crabtree@anl.gov; 630-252-5509.
Process Creates Electrocatalyst for Hydrogen Fuel Cells
This technology can be used for large production volumes such as fuel-cell-powered vehicles.
University of Bern, Switzerland
uel cells are gaining in importance as
an alternative to battery-operated
electromobility in heavy traffic, especially
since hydrogen is a CO2-neutral energy
carrier if it is obtained from renewable
sources. For efficient operation, fuel
cells need an electrocatalyst that im -
proves the electrochemical reaction in
which electricity is generated. The platinum-cobalt
nanoparticle catalysts used
as standard today have good catalytic
properties and require only as little as
necessary rare and expensive platinum.
In order for the catalyst to be used in the
fuel cell, it must have a surface with very
small platinum-cobalt particles in the
F
36
Cov
nanometer range, which is applied to a
conductive carbon carrier material.
Since the small particles and also the carbon
in the fuel cell are exposed to corrosion,
the cell loses efficiency and stability
over time.
A research team has developed an elec -
trocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells that, in
contrast to the catalysts commonly used
today, does not require a carbon carrier
and is therefore much more stable. The
new process is industrially applicable and
can be used to further optimize fuel-cellpowered
vehicles without CO2 emissions.
The catalyst achieves high performance
and promises stable fuel cell operation,
www.techbriefs.com
ToC
even at higher temperatures and high cur -
rent density.
In a hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen
atoms are split to generate electrical
pow er directly from them. For this purpose,
hydrogen is fed to an electrode
where it is split into positively charged
protons and negatively charged electrons.
The electrons flow off via the electrode
and generate electric current outside
the cell, which drives a vehicle en -
gine, for example. The protons pass
through a membrane that is only permeable
to protons and react on the other
side on a second electrode coated with a
catalyst (here, from a platinum-cobalt
Tech Briefs, August 2021
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Tech Briefs Magazine - August 2021

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Tech Briefs Magazine - August 2021 - Intro
Tech Briefs Magazine - August 2021 - Sponsor
Tech Briefs Magazine - August 2021 - Cov1
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