A recent review of advanced lithium traction battery development omitted separators. EE News relays an announcement from DuPont about a separator that can boost power, extend lifetime, and increase the safety of a lithium-ion battery.
DuPont is preparing for an early-2011 release of technology it says could dramatically increase the safety and performance of lithium-ion batteries and carve out a space for the U.S. chemical giant in the growing electric car market.
In a nutshell, DuPont’s battery separator called “Energain” is a nanofiber-based sheet designed as a barrier to prevent electrodes from touching and shorting out. That allows lithium ions to freely charge and discharge without interference.
DuPont claims its battery component would increase power 15 to 30 percent, increase battery life by up to 20 percent and help batteries operate better at high temperatures. If that’s the end result, electric cars would go farther on a single charge. More power could mean fewer battery requirements for today’s hybrid and electric cars. Further, the company said it wants to use the battery separator for renewable energy and power grid applications.
DuPont spokeswoman Cathy Andriadis called the technology a “critical steppingstone” for the company in the area of energy storage. By 2015, the company estimates, there will be a $7 billion annual market for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. That’s dominated by car batteries, but also includes some solar power and power grid storage applications.
The component also borrows from the burgeoning field of nanotechnology, in which scientists have been trying to produce smaller and lighter materials for all sorts of consumer products.
“We’ve been involved in batteries for a long time,” Andriadis said, “but in this case it’s a perfect example of how a paper-thin material can make a difference in the performance and lifetime of a battery.”
DuPont is going hunting for international customers. Andriadis said DuPont has signed confidentiality agreements with seven global auto companies and 20 battery makers to test the component and potentially purchase it.
Other AG posts about separators in li-ion batteries: