back to article Boffins build safer, more capacious lithium-ion battery

Scientists in the States have come up with a new take on the design of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. They claim their version makes the power packs not only less prone to combustion but also able to hold up to 50 per cent more energy. Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in Argonne, Illinois discovered …


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  1. Andrew
    Black Helicopters

    Not just laptops...

    There are any number of applications waiting for lighter/denser/longer lasting/more stable batteries. These include electric and hybrid electric vehicles, aircraft and small scale green energy projects.

    Current Lithium Ion batteries have about 1/10 the energy density of liquid fossil fuels. Current internal combustion engines are around 30% efficient, where electric drive trains are around 90%. This means that increasing the energy density in the batteries by 3 times means they can directly compete with fossil fuels for energy storage for transportation.

    Black helicopter because maybe one day these too will be electric... and silent...

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Li-Ni-Ma-Co-O doesn't trip off the tongue quite so well does it...

  3. Fluffykins Silver badge


    Not silent, at least not whilst there's a dirty great rotor blade having to be whipped through the air.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm not sure I'm looking forward to this ANL battery.

  5. Dale

    Funny maths

    "They claim ... able to hold up to 50 per cent more energy."

    "That ups the capacity by 20-30 per cent."

    Energy storage is up 50% but capacity is only up 30% so presumably these new batteries are less efficient than the old ones. I hope that doesn't mean the extra energy is turned into heat. We know what happens to that!

    And then:

    "Battery capacity is also proportional to cell size ... not only offer higher capacities ... but also with a smaller-sized cell."

    If capacity is proportional to cell size and your device now has a smaller-sized cell, you've just offset the benefit of 50% (or is that 30%) more capacity. Admittedly it means a smaller, lighter device, but with the same useless standby time as your old device.

  6. Richard

    NiCAD, NIMH, Li-ion ...

    lithnickelmangacoxide batteries anybody?

  7. Pete Dixon

    What about those Lithium Silicon Nanowire batteries?

    It was in the news a while back and still findable using Google News' search. Supposedly 10x the power density using already available manufacturing methods.

  8. Daniel B.

    17-day cellphone

    I hope this tech would find its way into mobiles, as I'd wish to enjoy a 17-day charge cycle for my mobile, or at least return to my 7-day cycle which I lost since I got this Blackberry... :(

  9. James Pickett

    Green flaw

    "Current internal combustion engines are around 30% efficient, where electric drive trains are around 90%"

    But where does the electricity come from? In most cases, fossil fuel burned to create steam, which drives a turbine, which spins a generator. Photovoltaic or hydro-electric, I'll accept...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *nodes anyone?

    Since the silicon nanowires give (alledgedly) 10x more capacity and are

    a fix for the flammable carbon anodes in current cells, does this mean

    that this 3x cathode performance would, if combined with the silicon


    give 30x capacity

    allow practical of use 30% of the 10x capacity of the nanowires?

  11. Andrew

    @James Pickett

    True, electric vehicles are not the magic 'green card' they are treated as - any more than fuel cell, hydrogen, compressed air, etc.

    However, as hybrid diesel-electric powertrains have shown, unlinking the power generation from the power usage can have dramatic effects, even when the power generation (engine+generator) must be carried on board. When you can put it in a building, generating many hundreds or thousands of times the power, it can be vastly more efficient. You can also replace the power station with greener technology in the future.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Lower risk?

    The risk is lower if batteries are charged at the same voltage. Increasing the voltage will increase the risk, surely.

    Which means -- have faith in greed -- higher voltage to increase capacity at the same risk as today's li-ion technology.

    Is that a nice thought? Increased capacity, smaller package, same risk: bigger bang.

  13. Nexox Enigma

    Re: Green Flaw

    Just to comment, any thermodynamic cycle (IE what they use to generate electricity in a conventional power plant) is limited by Carnot Efficiency, which less than 40% in almost every case (combined cycle natural gas plants might get 60%, but are quite pricy.) Add to that transmission losses and electricity at the car-charging location is probably contains less than 30% of the energy that was originally burned. Plus charging batteries generally creates heat and means more energy lost.

    And cars run on petrol, which releases much less carbon than coal does (And most of the world's power still comes from coal.)

    So the solution to electric cars isn't just to make the batteries work better.

  14. Geoffrey Summerhayes

    @ Richard, AC

    Wrong arrangement, I'll take a Licko-ma-neo-battery, pleeeese.

  15. Ishkandar

    What's in a name...

    How about LiMaNiCoO - pronounces Lima-Ni-Coo ?? Lots easier than Coca-Cola !!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old hat

    Li-Mag batteries have been popular in the Radio Controlled airplane circuit for the last couple of years. While these people may have found ways to improve the charge capacity, the bigger issue of the cell flaming out, especially during charging, was largely solved with the older Li-mag cells.

    Not that a 20% performace boost isn't a welcome addition to the market place. I just hope their manufacureing partner is faster to market then the MIT flexible Li-pol battery, Liquid Optics cameras, non-volatile DRAM, or the host of other unobtanium based products that seem to dissappear after their makers announce they are available.

  17. Chris
    Jobs Horns

    And how will I impress the misses now?

    She used to think I was daring and Bond-like with an explosive device (mobile) strapped daily so close to my crotch. Will her love decrease proportionatly to the risk of loosing my precious bits?

    Devil Jobs because I have to contact an Apple service technician in order to swap in these new batteries.

  18. Jim Black

    @Nexox Enigma

    Re: "And cars run on petrol, which releases much less carbon than coal does"

    When I took chemistry and thermodynamics, I was taught that the combustion of carbon products was by combining one or two oxygen atoms with each carbon atom, with a concurrent release of energy in the form of heat. It would seem therefore, that combining x number of atoms of carbon with y number of oxygen atoms would release the same amount of heat energy regardless of the source of the carbon.

    Perhaps you are saying that coal is combusted less efficiently than petrol?


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jim Black

    You forget petrol is a hydrocarbon, so there's also the n oxygen atoms and 2n hydrogen atoms to take into account.

  20. Bracken Dawson
    Black Helicopters


    Unwanted side-reactions caused by overcharging causes the "explosions".

    New cathode can delay these side-reactions.

    Now we can charge them higher.

    They'll still explode unless the margins have been increased.

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