Improvements in both the safety and voltage capacity of lithium-ion batteries will be necessary to power transportation fleets with electricity. Current lines of research aim to improve Li-ion battery technology, but one group of LDRD researchers is exploring a novel approach using inorganic materials. In the past year, the researchers have developed alternative electrolyte solvents that significantly decrease battery flammability and volatility, dramatically improving safety and performance. Also, they are developing alternative cathode materials to improve battery voltage and overall performance while further enhancing safety. This use of inorganic materials is already improving the safety and lifetime of lithium-ion batteries (project 12-118).
Another LDRD team is taking a different approach to improving conductivity and lifetime performance of lithium-ion batteries. The team used first principles simulations and thermodynamic models to guide the synthesis of nanostructured high-energy electrodes and to better understand the behavior of these nanomaterials. The ultimate goal is to develop an integrated nanostructure basis for cell design, which will use nanomaterials as the primary means of improving cell performance, stability and lifetime. This work will help accelerate INL intellectual property onto the lithium-ion battery market in a more competitive time frame (project 12-120).