New Electrolyte Combination Creates Longer Life For Batteries

Lithium Coin Battery
Panasonic Li-CFx button battery. Batteries like this one could get extended life thanks to new electrolyte.

Traditional batteries contain three parts: a cathode, anode and an electrolyte. Each part serves a function. The cathode generates a positive charge, the anode carries a negative charge, and the electrolyte carries ions between the two electrodes.

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have found a way to alter the arrangement. They created a combination of electrolytes that serves as both an ion conductor and a supplement cathode. The researchers took a lithium carbon fluoride (Li-CFx) battery and added solid lithium thiophosphate to the electrolyte. As the battery discharges, the lithium fluoride salt catalyzes the electrolyte reactions at the battery electrodes.

This translates into extra life for the battery, which offers immediate benefits. There are many cases where changing a battery in a device is inconvenient. For example, pacemaker batteries are usually Li-CFx batteries. Surgery is required to swap out the batteries. Imagine a pacemaker battery lasting 30 years instead of only 10?

This research appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.