University of Akron’s Professor Dr. Yu Zhu’s research group is trying to prevent if a powerhouse of energy – a lithium battery – failed. An electric or hybrid car would be rendered useless and a much-needed biomedical device would hamper or endanger a patient’s health. The power source for things like implanted medical devices, electric cars or unmanned aerial vehicles are vital to their performance. Zhu’s polymer scientists are trying to prevent such failures with a new way involving polymer to make lithium batteries safer and perform better.

A recent paper from Zhu’s research group, “A Superionic Conductive, Electrochemically Stable Dual-Salt Polymer Electrolyte,” has been published in the journal Joule, Cell Press’s forward-looking journal spanning energy research across disciplines.

Specifically, Zhu and his research team developed a solid polymer electrolyte that can be used in lithium ion batteries to replace the current liquid electrolyte to improve the safety and performance of lithium batteries.

Pictured above is a solid polymer electrolyte film that’s being utilized in lithium batteries in the research being led by Dr. Yu Zhu. Image Credit: University of Akron, Dr. Yu Zhu.  Click image for the largest view.

Zhu says solid electrolytes has not been commercialized in lithium batteries because of drawbacks like low ionic conductivity and high interfacial resistance with electrodes. However, Zhu and his team demonstrated that a dual-salt based polymer solid electrolyte exhibited super ionic conductivity at room temperature and outstanding electrochemical stability with lithium battery electrode materials.

Zhu explained, “A solid electrolyte has long been thought for lithium ion batteries due to its nonflammable property and high mechanical strength that may mitigate the disaster caused by battery failure. Battery safety and energy density are major concerns for emerging applications of lithium batteries, such as for use in electrical vehicles. If the solid polymer electrolyte is successfully developed, the energy density of the battery could be doubled and the safety concerns for lithium batteries could be removed. This research sets up a strong base to develop such a promising solid electrolyte for lithium batteries.”

The research team has formed a company, Akron PolyEnergy Inc., that will further develop this technique and produce a large prototype for future commercialization.

Zhu’s graduate students Si Li and Yu-Ming Chen are leading authors for this research. Other researchers include graduate students Wenfeng Liang, Yunfan Shao and Kewei Liu, and Dr. Zhorro Nikolov from the National Polymer Innovation Center.

This is very encouraging. With airliners and Evs catching fire and so many small devices that could life make life better waiting for safer power sources, these folks could very well have a winner. Lets hope the development works out extraordinarily well and the new company handles the product promotion with aplomb.


1 Comment so far

  1. Beston on July 4, 2018 5:56 AM

    No matter this research will be proved or not, it is still encouraging because there are scientists who are finding more and more new solutions to solve increasing problems of a modern world.

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