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Developing Smaller, Better Batteries

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With the help of $4.7-million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory are working to solve some of the voltage and heat limitations of existing electric and hybrid vehicle batteries, as well as building a complete next-generation battery.

Here’s a quick rundown: 
• The development of new capacitors that can withstand high temperatures and current. These power inverters convert the direct current of the battery to alternating current, which powers the electric motor
• The use of a new type of electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries. The electrolyte allows ions to flow from one pole of the battery to the other as it charges and discharges. The research will explore the use of a new material, high-voltage spinel oxide, which could improve the energy density of a battery, making it smaller and potentially cheaper
• Next-generation batteries in total. “This project is different from what Argonne’s battery research program has done in the past because we’re looking at developing a complete battery package,” says Khalil Amine, a distinguished fellow at the laboratory, who leads the team working on this project.