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Electric cars of the future may be powered by a newly developed high-performance lithium-ion battery

In the article, C&EN Senior Editor Alexander H. Tullo notes that polymer membranes are already an essential component of lithium ion batteries that power iPods, laptop computers, and other portable electronic devices. These porous, hair-thin separators control the flow of electrons through the battery. Their failure can result in overheating and even fires. Such problems have recently prompted the widespread recall of millions of lithium ion batteries.

Scientists are reporting development of an advanced lithium-ion battery that is ideal for powering the electric vehicles now making their way into dealer showrooms.

The new battery can store large amounts of energy in a small space and has a high rate capacity, meaning it can provide current even in extreme temperatures. A report on this innovation appears in ACS' Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Bruno Scrosati, Yang-Kook Sun, and colleagues point out that consumers have a great desire for electric vehicles, given the shortage and expense of petroleum. But a typical hybrid car can only go short distances on electricity alone, and they hold less charge in very hot or very cold temperatures. With the government push to have one million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015, the pressure to solve these problems is high. To make electric vehicles a more realistic alternative to gas-powered automobiles, the researchers realized that an improved battery was needed.

generation of electric and hybrid cars may be a step closer thanks to new and improved polymer membranes that allow the development of bigger, safer, and more powerful lithium ion batteries, according to an article,"The Power of Pores" scheduled for the Feb. 18 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.

The scientists developed a high-capacity, nanostructured, tin-carbon anode, or positive electrode, and a high-voltage, lithium-ion cathode, the negative electrode. When the two parts are put together, the result is a high-performance battery with a high energy density and rate capacity. "On the basis of the performance demonstrated here, this battery is a top candidate for powering sustainable vehicles," the researchers say.


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