Japanese researchers have found a way to make batteries cheaper, but also safer, thanks to a completely innovative method.
While electric cars continue to become more popular over the years, their cost is still quite high. In question, technologies for driving aids and related to safety, but not only. Because what also makes prices soar is also and above all the batteries. These are indeed still expensive to produce, especially when the cost of certain raw materials explodes.
And for good reason, equipment manufacturers use a certain amount of materials such as nickel and cobalt, which are sometimes difficult to extract. Not to mention the ethical problems, since most mines are located in areas where the extraction is done in difficult conditions, even dangerous for the health of the workers.
An innovative solution
If manufacturers are looking at solutions aimed at reducing manufacturing costs while improving autonomy, such as solid-state batteries, another problem arises: the risk of shortages. Indeed, the materials used to create the accumulators are likely to become increasingly rare, as the market for electric cars develops. But it seems that a solution exists.
It is on the side of Japan that it is. Indeed, researchers at Tohoku University, led by Professor Tetsu Ichitsubo, have found a way to produce less expensive batteries, but also more stable and therefore safer. And all this, using far fewer metals. As the university website details, the team has succeeded in synthesizing new components.
To create a lithium-ion battery, the materials must form a structure that allows electrons to flow. The composition of this structure can then be modified with different components, in order to reduce costs and increase stability. The researchers then realized that it is possible to find a better balance between “noble” materials and those that are cheaper, by using the principle of “configurational entropy”.
By synthesizing these in the laboratory, and mixing them with nickel and cobalt in smaller quantities, they were then able to create a less expensive powder. Even better, these new materials would further optimize the structure of the electrodes in the batteries, making them more stable and therefore safer. For now, this study is only at a preliminary stage, but it could help manufacturers and equipment suppliers in the future.
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