Alternative Electrode Materials: Batteries Essay

1161 words - 5 pages

One of the greatest challenges in the twenty-first century is undoubtedly energy storage. The depletion of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels is inevitable. This can be simply arrived at due to the fact that it is a finite resource. Additionally, the rate of generation of fossil fuels far exceeds the rate of its depletion so much so that it is negligible in comparison. Thus the world today has been forced to search for a better energy source. According to Chen(2013), “Batteries are crucial to solve this problem [the energy crisis] as they can efficiently store electricity in chemicals and release it according to demand”(p. 156). Furthermore, the batteries used currently do not meet the demands of modern society, such as the need for reliable and safe power sources for a large variety of portable consumer electronic devices. According to Bruce(2005), “The performance of these devices depends intimately on the properties of their materials.”(p. 366). One of the major breakthroughs in the research for better battery materials includes the invention of the Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Scrosati(2000)states, “Further breakthroughs in materials, not incremental changes, hold the key to new generations of energy storage and conversion devices” (p. 167). The main components of a battery are the electrodes, and the materials used for these electrodes have the greatest impact on the performance of the battery. Therefore, the essential question is: which materials used in the electrodes will yield to the most battery life?

The history behind the creation of the lithium-ion battery is as follows. Schalkwijk (2002) provides the reason behind why lithium was the chosen material for the battery, “(i) Lithium has the lightest weight, (ii) It has the highest voltage and (iii) it has the greatest density of all metals”(p.133). Lithium batteries began with the work of Harris in 1958. His work eventually led to the development of a variety of primary lithium cells during the 1970s. Further experimentation led to the usage of lithium insertion compounds as positive electrodes. Larcher(2007)discusses, “The first cells of this type appeared when Exxon energy tried to commercialize Li/TiS systems.” (p.236). These were low voltage systems that only operated near 2 volts. During that era graphite and layered sulfide were suggested as potential candidates for electrodes of a Lithium-ion battery. The next decade saw development on advanced battery systems based upon the insertion and removal of Lithium-ions into host compounds serving as both electrodes. Much of this work was associated with finding a suitable material to host lithium ions. Eventually in 1991, Sony introduced the first Lithium-ion cell with an operational voltage of 3.6 V.

The best rechargeable batteries used today are that of the Lithium-ion battery technology as they offer the highest energy density among all rechargeable technologies used today. However these batteries used currently...

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