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Organogel electrolyte stops explosive battery leaks

03 Jul 2013

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A research team from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea have stumbled upon a viable solution for battery leakage issues. A physical organogel electrolyte could be the key, as it has an irreversible thermal gelation and a high value of the Li+ transference number.

Battery failure, which released flammable electrolytes, heat damage and smoke, resulted in a Boeing 787 catching fire on the ground in Boston, US only recently. If they had used a safer electrolyte, the risk would have been reduced.

The development of solid-type electrolytes, safe from explosion caused by high temperature and overcharge, is urgently needed to replace the liquid electrolytes. The solid electrolyte enables batteries to be safer as well as the use of higher energy electrode materials.

The most important parameter of electrolytes used in electrochemical cells is ionic conductivity. The use of solid-state electrolytes has been limited due to low ionic conductivity caused by their immobile matrix regardless of their own merits such as no leak, non-volatility, mechanical strength and processing flexibility.


UNIST organogel electrolyte

Elastic behaviour of a cylindrical monolith of the gel electrolyte based on 2 wt. % PVA-CN in 1 M LiPF6 in 1:2 (vol.) EC:EMC as the base liquid.


Another parameter we should consider is transference of the number of ions. Electrolytes are characterized by their ionic conductivity, It is desirable that overall ionic results from the dominant contribution of the ions of interest. However high values of the cationic transference number achieved by solid or gel electrolytes have resulted in low ionic conductivity leading to inferior cell performances.

The research team made up of Profs. Hyun-Kon Song and Noejung Park from UNIST, presented the paper on the organogel polymer electrolyte characterized by a high liquid-electrolyte-level ionic conductivity with high a cationic transference number for Lithium ion batteries (LIB).

The research team acquired the two required properties simultaneously in polymer gel electrolytes: a liquid-electrolyte-level conductivity with a high transference number. Cyanoethly polyvinyle alchohol (PVA-CN) played a key role in the highly conductive gel electrolyte while another cyano resin, Cyanoethlyle pullulan (Pullulan-CN), was used as a control representing a liquid electrolyte containing cyano chains. The PVA-CN-containing liquid electrolyte was thermally gelated even without any chemical crosslinkers or polymerisations initiators.


The research article can be found at http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130529/srep01917/full/srep01917.html




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