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How Lithium-ion Batteries Work

Lithium batteries have been identified as a major part of the future of any renewable energy transition. Their implementation in electric mobility and projects of various scales has shown off just how versatile they can be. Solid state batteries are the next generation and ‘holy grail’ of energy storage when it comes to the development and use of lithium ion batteries – But how do batteries work?

There are five key elements to the average battery: anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and lithium-ions. The separator sits inside a gel-like liquid electrolyte that together separate the anode from the cathode. When a battery is fully charged all the lithium ions are in the anode. While the battery is discharging, all the lithium ions move through the electrolyte to the cathode. Conversely, while the battery is charging, all the lithium ions move from the cathode to the back to the anode.

After many charging cycles, dendrites may begin to form within the battery. If they pierce through the electrolyte and separator causing the anode and cathode to touch each other, the battery might catch fire. This is the reason why most batteries have a liquid state separator (a gel that is ineffective in transport, but safe). The fundamental reason solid state electrolyte is so highly sought after is because it decreases the weight, in turn enabling more energy density per battery. Much more lithium can be inserted in the same volume. Also, these properties make for a much safer unit. 

EnergyX is working on solid state battery electrolyte technology using its core LiTAS™ nanotechnology to solve some of these problems. During preliminary research lithium ions have moved through the metal organic framework nanoparticles at unprecedented rates. Although preliminary work, we hope to create next generation batteries in the near future.