White House.gov Press Office Feed
Saturday, June 23, 2012
THE MAKING OF A BATTERY
Army scientists are squeezing more power from batteries by developing new methods and materials with incredible results. “Our battery group has recently developed some new materials that could potentially increase the energy density of batteries by 30 percent,” said Cynthia Lundgren, electrochemical branch chief at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
This small group of scientists work on energy and power solutions for America’s soldiers.
“This 30 percent is actually quite a big deal. Typically improvements range about one percent a year with a few step changes,” Lundgren said.
For years, researchers studied how batteries work. They looked at how each component reacts with another. At high voltages, batteries are extremely energetic systems.
“There has never been a battery, a single cell, that operated at five volts,” Lundgren explained. “Through our understanding of that interface, we were able to design an additive that you add into the electrolyte that is somewhat of a sacrificial agent. It preferentially reacts with the electrode and forms a stable interface. Now the battery is able to operate at five volts.”
Scientists are calling the additive a major step forward. Since Army researchers Kang Xu and Arthur Cresce designed the substance two years ago, the lab has filed patent applications.
“This is what you would call a quantum leap,” Cresce said. “We’ve gone from circling around a certain type of four volt energy for quite a while. All of a sudden a whole new class of batteries and voltages are open to us. The door is open that was closed before.”
Army research has the potential to reduce battery weight and allow soldiers to carry more ammunition or water.
“Our goal is to make things easier for the soldier,” Lundgren said. “This research started because of the Army’s unique needs. There is a huge investment in batteries.”