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Improved Carbon Black Additives for High-Energy Lithium Ion Batteries




Berkeley Lab researchers led by Robert Kostecki have developed a technology for extending the capacity and improving the electrochemical performance and safety of high energy lithium ion batteries through a Berkeley Lab developed treatment of the carbon black additive used to make composite cathodes. The resulting lithium ion cells last one-third longer and deliver more energy, at no significant increase in cost.

Battery packs using the technology are capable of storing more energy within the same space used by conventional lithium ion cells. The technology brings substantial improvements to cathodes in lithium ion cells, paving the way for batteries that can take an electric car 300 miles between charges or store renewable energy in power grids. It also enables a more lightweight and compact lithium ion battery for the next generation of cordless power tools or mobile electronic devices.

In the Berkeley Lab approach, the treated carbon black reduces surface reactivity when used with a high voltage lithium ion cathode. The treatment process extends the electrochemical stability window of conventional electrolytes and enables the use of novel, high voltage cathode materials. By inhibiting electrolyte oxidation on composite high voltage cathodes, lithium ion batteries built with Berkeley Lab treated carbon black additives exhibit improved cyclability, longer life, and operate with lower risk of cell damage or dangerous thermal runaway conditions.

The treatment process can be easily integrated into the carbon black synthesis process. Importantly, the modified carbon black can be used to manufacture composite electrodes using standard, scalable, lithium ion battery electrode fabrication methods.

Carbon black, commonly used as a conducting additive in lithium ion battery composite cathodes, can be highly reactive with organic electrolytes, particularly at voltages higher than 4.2 V. Electrolyte oxidation can occur not only on the surface of the active material, but also on the surface of carbon. This instability affects battery’s cycling efficiency, energy storage capacity, cycling life, safety and cost.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE:  Bench scale prototype

STATUS:  Patent pending.  Available for licensing or collaborative research.


Block Copolymer Cathode Binder to Simultaneously Transport Electronic Charge and Ions, IB-3025

Modified Metal Organic Framework (MOF) as a Solid Lithium Electrolyte for Safer Lithium Ion Batteries, IB-3097

Low Temperature Sodium-Sulfur Grid Storage and EV Battery, IB-3042


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