The group led by well-known expert Jeff Dunn at Dalhousie University has been looking for improved lithium-ion batteries as a partner in Tesla for six years now. Under an agreement from early 2021, it will continue to do so for at least five more years, cemented by a young German battery researcher Michael Metzger, who came to the university as an assistant professor at the time. Dahn, who recently declared no battery problem for 1 million miles of electric cars and more, caused a stir at a conference by talking about 100 years of usable battery life. The scientific article on this topic has been published – with Metzger (see photo) as one of the authors.
10,000 years of age at 19 degrees
In an interview with teslamag.de at the start of his career in Canada, Metzger said the group’s overall goal is to develop batteries that are durable, high energy density, sustainable and cost-effective. In an article on Century Batteries now published, he is named as the author after five other people and before Dahn. The scientific title is somewhat more complex: “Li[Ni0.5Mn0.3Co0.2]O2 as an excellent alternative to LiFePO4 for long-lasting, low-voltage Li-Ion cells.”
Researchers working with Dahn are already predicting a lifespan of up to 10,000 years for their current laboratory batteries. But it also has to remain nice and cool at 10 degrees and, above all, can be charged at a maximum of 3.65 volts. The service life is already halved at 3.8 V, and at 4.2 V, which is common for NMC cells sometimes used in experiments, 100 years remains. With more realistic temperatures of 40 degrees, it quickly becomes only about ten years old.
The higher maximum voltage of NMC batteries is why they have a higher energy density than batteries with LFP chemistry, which observers believe has a great future due to their durability and relatively low cost. If this potential is not fully exploited, the capacity of NMC is correspondingly less. But according to the article by the Dalhousie researchers, a higher intensity can be achieved even if it stops at 3.8 eV. And this has a very positive effect on the expected service life. Even at 40 degrees, with the right additive, about 100 years can be expected.
Combined advantages of NMC and LFP
An electric car probably won’t even be needed, unless you plan from the start to continue using the battery or share it as fixed storage – a fattener is already defending it because batteries will be scarce for a long time to come. According to him and colleagues in the current article, NMC batteries, which have a longer service life due to the limited voltage, are initially more expensive than LFP cells. However, the resulting higher density and lower space requirements with NMC could make the computation look more positive for many years to come. On the other hand, researchers around Dahn and Metzger do not rule out the chemistry of LFP, which is increasingly popular for electric cars outside China: in the future, they want to experiment with hybrid electrodes, among other things.
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