Novel Anode Material Makes Lithium Ion Batteries Safer and Last Longer

August 31, 2020 by Nicholas St. John

Researchers believe Lithium Lanthanum Titanate-based batteries could be just what EVs need to further permeate the market.

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) along with Jilin University in China have looked into promising materials for the anode of novel lithium-ion batteries, according to KIT’s press release.

The material is Lithium Lanthanum Titanate with a Perovskite Crystal Structure (LLTO). A perovskite crystal structure is a cubic kind of structure, and the material’s specific chemical composition is illustrated below:


Image Courtesy of KIT
Image Courtesy of KIT


This change will allow lithium-ion batteries, the type of battery which is already the preferred technology within the EV industry, to improve power density, energy density, charging rate, safety, and cycle life.

Even more interesting, is that these improvements are done without requiring the particle size to be decreased to the nanoscale, but instead micro sized particles will suffice.


Lithium Titanate Oxide

The anode of a battery consists of a current collector and active material that will store the energy, and normally, graphene is used for this material, but for negative electrodes, it has a low charging rate. Because of this, many people have turned to alternative materials such as Lithium Titanate Oxide.

While this helps with the charging rate and is also safer, it has a lower energy density than graphene, which in the case of EVs is detrimental. This is because for EVs to be able to take to the streets and overhaul their combustion engine counterparts, not only do they require a smart grid capable of dealing with the variable power demands that EVs will cause, but also they will need batteries that can store a high amount of energy, while remaining portable and safe for an outside environment.


The Research

According to the research done at KIT, the new anode materials have a lower electrode potential compared to the LTO materials in the industry right now. This lower electrode potential lowers the total cell voltage, as well increases the capacity of the battery, the two parameters that energy density directly reflects on.

The charging rate of the battery, which normally is inversely proportional to the size of the structure (meaning the smaller the structure, the longer the charging time) utilizing micro particles of the LLTO anode material are even better than nanoparticles of the LTO material. This is an incredible feature as they are much larger, with much better charging rate, meaning the possible capabilities of an LLTO-based anode can far surpass what we have seen from current EV batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries have already taken a lion’s share of battery applications, but they still do have a lot of room to grow. Battery technology must consistently improve for our infrastructure to rely on rechargeable energy.

These anodes based on the LLTO material have the potential to bring these batteries even closer to our future’s needs, and their basic ability will be improved even greater as they go through the same improvements that their LTO counterparts do.