Designing Better Electrolyte Components for Lithium-Ion Batteries
Researchers at North Carolina State University are cooking up next-generation electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries, and their recipe calls for more salt. The Ionic Liquids and Electrolytes for Energy Technologies (ILEET) Laboratory, run by Professor Wesley Henderson, creates and characterizes new lithium salts and ionic liquids to formulate electrolytes with a wider range of operating temperatures and voltages. Electrolytes in current Li-ion batteries are limited by poor low temperature performance (< -10°C) and decompose at elevated temperatures (>55°C), potentially causing a fire hazard. To circumvent these issues, Henderson is developing new electrolyte components based on organoborates related to bis(oxalato)borate (BOB–) and cyanocarbanions. These anions are first synthesized as lithium salts, and then scaled up to form ionic liquids, which are salts that remain liquid even at room temperature or below and have low volatility.