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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

New Technology Could Wean the Battery World Off Cobalt

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Researchers are working to eliminate cobalt from battery cathodes.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) researchers collaborated with scientists at Lawrence Berkeley and Argonne national laboratories, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Calfornia, Santa Cruz, to help build cathodes without cobalt that provide 50% higher lithium-storage capacity than conventional materials, opening the possibility for better batteries that do not rely on cobalt.

Four years ago, researchers at UC Berkeley determined how cathodes can maintain a high energy density without cobalt layers, and they more recently showed how manganese can be applied to this concept. The researchers used fluorine doping to incorporate a large amount of manganese into the cathode, and more manganese ions coupled with the right charge lets the cathodes store more lithium ions, boosting battery capacity. The team found the disordered manganese cathodes delivered nearly 1,000 watt-hours per kilogram, while typical lithium-ion cathodes yield about 500-700 watt-hours per kilogram.

"You can pretty much use any element in the periodic table now because we've shown that cathodes don't have to be layered," notes UC Berkeley professor Gerbrand Ceder.

From Berkeley News
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