Paper-thin carbon fiber for battery with 428 Wh/kg energy density


The integration of lithium metal into lithium-ion batteries, in order to replace the graphite commonly used today as an anode material, will be a major step forward in energy storage technology that could allow for a big jump in battery capacity and performance. But lithium metal is a difficult material to work with, and its tendency to form “dendrite” structures that branch out of the anode and cause short circuits has limited development.

Researchers are pursuing various strategies to overcome the challenge posed by lithium metal, and a group led by Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and Jeonbuk National University in South Korea has proposed an approach that appears to offer several advantages. The group has worked with carbon fiber paper as a replacement for the copper foil commonly used to form the lithium metal anode structure.

The group prepared carbon fiber with polymer binders and used a 3D framework into which lithium metal was infused. The preparation is described in full in the paper Construction of Hierarchical Surface on Carbon Fiber Paper for Lithium Metal Batteries with Superior Stability, recently published in Advanced Energy Materials.

Batteries developed using the carbon fiber/lithium metal anode achieved a high specific energy of 428 Wh/kg.

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“Considering the five times lower density and lower cost of carbon fiber compared to copper, our proposed anode material is an important achievement that can accelerate the commercialization of durable and lightweight lithium metal batteries,” said Sung-Ho Lee, head of the Carbon Composite Research Center at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

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Further testing showed that during cycling, lithium coated the carbon fiber without formation of dendrites thanks to the formation of an inorganic solid electrolyte interphase layer. Full battery cells fabricated using the anodes maintained 85% of their initial capacity after 300 cycles. The group says it plans to continue working on this approach, which could offer a simplified solution to integrating lithium-metal into energy storage.

“We believe that our advanced strategy, which is different to previously reported technologies, such as adding novel and toxic additives in electrolytes and surface morphology modification using complicated methods, will enable the realization of a highly stable LMA with outstanding electrochemical performance for application in the practical energy storage fields to replace conventional LiBs,” the group concluded.

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