New Processing Technology for Maximizing Energy Densities of High-Capacity Lithium-Ion Batteries

Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) announced the development of a technology that provides a simple solution to a persistent issue associated with silicon-based anode (-) materials.
Credit: Korea Institute of Science and Technology

A novel pretreatment strategy resolves a long-standing issue of silicon anode materials. This solution-based strategy enables simple and safe processing for large-scale production.

A team of Korean researchers has developed a processing technology for maximizing energy densities of high-capacity batteries. The joint research team, which consists of Dr. Lee, Minah of the Center for Energy Storage Research and Dr. Hong, Jihyun of the Center for Energy Materials Research, both of the Clean Energy Institute, Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), announced the development of a technology that provides a simple solution to a persistent issue associated with silicon-based anode (-) materials.

Recently, silicon anode materials capable of storing four times more lithium ions than graphite anode materials in lithium-ion batteries have gained growing attention due to their potential to improve the mileage of electric vehicles. But when charged in the initial cycle, a battery with a silicon-based anode loses more than 20% of the lithium ions it uses for electricity storage, which results in an issue of reduced battery capacity. To resolve this issue, a method of “lithium pre-loading,” or “pre-lithiation,” which is adding extra lithium before battery assembly to compensate the lithium loss during battery cycling, has been studied. Methods applied so far such as using lithium powder have the drawbacks regarding a safety hazard and high cost.

Dr. Lee and Dr. Hong of KIST have developed a technology that enables the pre-loading of lithium ions using a lithium-containing solution rather than the lithium powder, to prevent lithium loss in a silicon-based anode. Submerging an electrode in the tailored solution just for five minutes is enough to achieve a successful lithium pre-loading, by which electrons and lithium ions are inserted in the silicon-based anode through a spontaneous chemical reaction. What made this simple process possible was that unlike the conventional method of adding lithium powder to an electrode leading heterogeneous lithium distribution, the tailored prelithiation solution rapidly seeps into an electrode ensuring homogeneous delivery of lithium into silicon oxide.

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