Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ion Trek Through Polymer Offers Better Batteries

Date:
March 21, 2003
Source:
Idaho National E & E Laboratory
Summary:
Cell phones, CD players and flashlights all wear down batteries far faster than we might wish. But there's new hope, now that researchers at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) have overcome another barrier to building more powerful, longer-lasting lithium-based batteries.

Cell phones, CD players and flashlights all wear down batteries far faster than we might wish. But there's new hope, now that researchers at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) have overcome another barrier to building more powerful, longer-lasting lithium-based batteries.

The INEEL team, led by inorganic chemist Thomas Luther, discovered how lithium ions move through the flexible membrane that powers their patented rechargeable lithium battery. Research results are currently published online, and in the April 24, 2003, print issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

Luther calls their translucent polymer membrane an 'inorganic version of plastic kitchen wrap.' The team, including chemists Luther, Mason Harrup and Fred Stewart, created it in 2000 by adding a ceramic powder to a material called MEEP ([bis(methoxyethoxyethoxy) phosphazene]), an oozy, thick oil. The resulting solid, pliable membrane lets positively charged lithium ions pass through to create the electrical circuit that powers the battery, but rebuffs negatively charged electrons. This keeps the battery from running down while it sits on the shelf-overcoming a major battery-life storage problem.

For years, rechargeable lithium battery performance has been disappointing because the batteries needed recharging every few days. After conquering the discharge challenge, INEEL's team attacked the need for greater battery power to be commercially competitive. Their membrane didn't allow sufficient passage of lithium ions to produce enough power, so they needed to understand exactly how the lithium ions move through the membrane on a molecular level.

First, they analyzed the MEEP membrane using nuclear magnetic resonance-the equivalent of a hospital MRI-to zero in on the best lithium ion travel routes. The results supported the team's suspicion that the lithium ions travel along the 'backbone' of the membrane. The MEEP membrane has a backbone of alternating phosphorus and nitrogen molecules, with oxygen-laden 'ribs' attached to the phosphorus molecules.

Further analysis using infrared and raman spectroscopy (techniques that measure vibrational frequencies and the bonds between different nuclei) helped confirm that the lithium ions are most mobile when interacting with nitrogen. Lithium prefers to nestle into a "pocket" created by a nitrogen molecule on the bottom with oxygen molecules from a MEEP rib on either side.

Armed with this new understanding of how lithium moves through the solid MEEP membrane, the team has already starting making new membrane versions to optimize lithium ion flow. And that should make the team's lithium batteries much more powerful.

The team's research results are a major departure from the conventionally accepted explanation of lithium ion transport that proposed the lithium/MEEP transport mechanism as jumping from one rib to the next using the oxygen molecules as stepping stones.

Harrup, Stewart and Luther are optimistic their battery design will ultimately change the battery industry. The team projects that its polymer membrane will be so efficient at preventing battery run down, that batteries could sit unused for up to 500 months between charges with no loss of charge. Since the membrane is a flexible solid, it can be molded into any shape-which could open up new applications for batteries. And the membrane is very temperature tolerant-with the potential to solve portable power need problems in the frigid cold of space. The team is already working with several federal agencies on applications for its lithium battery designs.

The reference for the paper describing this research is "On the Mechanism of Ion Transport Through Polyphosphazene Solid Polymer Electrolytes: NMR, IR, and Raman Spectroscopic Studies and Computational Analysis of 15N Labeled Polyphosphazenes," Journal of Physical Chemistry B. INEEL authors include Thomas Luther, Fred Stewart, Randall A. LaViolette, William Bauer and Mason K. Harrup. The work was also supported by Christopher Allen of the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt.

The INEEL is a science-based applied engineering national laboratory dedicated to supporting the U.S. Department of Energy's missions in environment, energy, science and national defense. The INEEL is operated for the DOE by Bechtel BWXT Idaho, LLC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Idaho National E & E Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Idaho National E & E Laboratory. "Ion Trek Through Polymer Offers Better Batteries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030321075320.htm>.
Idaho National E & E Laboratory. (2003, March 21). Ion Trek Through Polymer Offers Better Batteries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030321075320.htm
Idaho National E & E Laboratory. "Ion Trek Through Polymer Offers Better Batteries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030321075320.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins