Asphalt-based super batteries
The next big breakthrough in battery technology could be right under your feet
A team at Rice University’s Tour lab has developed a new porous carbon anode made from asphalt that could potentially charge high-capacity lithium batteries 20 times faster than currently available commercial lithiumion batteries.
Project lead, James Tour, said “the capacity of these batteries is enormous, but what is equally remarkable is that we can bring them from zero charge to full charge in ve minutes, rather than the typical two hours or more needed with other batteries.”
The researchers mixed asphalt with conductive graphene nanoribbons and coated the composite with lithium metal through electrochemical deposition to create the new material. The anode was then combined with a sulfurized-carbon cathode to make full batteries for testing. The batteries showed a high-power density of 1,322 watts per kilogram and high-energy density of 943 watt-hours per kilogram.
Testing revealed another significant benefit: The carbon anode mitigated the formation of lithium dendrites. These unwanted dendrites usually form in standard lithium batteries and invade a battery’s electrolyte. If they extend far enough, they short-circuit the anode and cathode and can cause the battery to fail, catch re or explode.