Extending Next-Generation, Stable Lithium Metal Batteries

Next-generation lithium batteries that offer long-lasting, lightweight, and low-cost energy storage could revolutionize the industry but many challenges have prevented commercialization. Rechargeable lithium metal anodes play a key role in how well this new wave of lithium batteries function, but during battery operation they are highly susceptible to the growth of dendrites, microstructures that can lead to short-circuiting and catching on fire. Now, chemical engineers at Columbia University  have found that alkali metal additives like potassium ions can prevent lithium microstructure proliferation during battery use. They used a combination of microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, and computational modeling in their research. The discovery could optimize electrolyte design for stable lithium metal batteries and enable energy storage for electric vehicles, houses during blackouts and power grid failures, and much more.