Engineering 101

Micro-engineered Electrodes Could Slash Battery Mfg Costs

Now there’s an easily fabricated, high-performance carbon microlattice electrode that may result in cheaper batteries powered by sodium ions. Tohoku University published the approach in the journal Small.

Lithium-ion batteries are ubiquitous, but manufacturing them is costly. This will not improve as the metal’s reserves are quickly being depleted, and its extraction is harmful to the environment. There’s a push to reduce battery manufacturing costs and to unlock the potential of widely available sodium ions.

Tohoku University is looking at ways to achieve high-performance, low-cost batteries by increasing the loaded amount of active materials used to make a battery into a single battery cell. This requires the fabrication of thicker electrodes that restrict ion movement and electric charge – within the battery.

A new approach fabricates micro-architected, high-performing negatively charged (anode) electrodes. It involves using 3D stereolithography to print microlattice structures made from resin, then shrinking them via a process called pyrolysis. The resulting hard carbon anodes allow fast transportation of energy-generating ions and improved performance. As 3D printers gain increasing resolution, sodium-ion batteries could eventually outperform lithium-ion ones.

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