New technology makes batteries cheaper, more efficient

The new method brings the benefits of liquid technology to big batteries -- but without the baggage.
By Brooks Hays  |  June 23, 2015 at 2:43 PM
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BOSTON, June 23 (UPI) -- Researchers at MIT have developed a new manufacturing strategy that cuts the cost of battery production in half.

In addition to slashing costs, the new technology promises to produce a better performing and more easily recycled battery. The key to the across-the-board improvements is hybridization.

The new manufacturing method has allowed scientists to combine the benefits of both liquid-based flow batteries and traditional solid ones. Researchers call the battery "semisolid."

The battery features an electrode in the form of tiny suspended particles. The electrode is suspended in liquid, which allows manufactures to forego the drying process involved in traditional solid battery construction.

Scientists were able to use thicker, less delicate electrodes when employing a semisolid design. This removed complexity from the manufacturing process, and made the battery more resilient and flexible.

Liquid technology is ideal for small batteries that don't have to hold a significant charge. But for larger ion batteries intended for industrial uses, liquid technology requires too many components and an inefficient manufacturing process.

The new method brings the benefits of liquid technology to big batteries -- but without the baggage.

"We realized that a better way to make use of this flowable electrode technology was to reinvent the [lithium ion] manufacturing process," Yet-Ming Chiang, lead researcher and MIT professor, explained in a press release.

Chiang and his colleagues have already spun the technology off into a new company, which is partnering with a number of companies to produce more than 1,000 prototypes.

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