Novel Chemistry Offers Ultra-High Power Density Batteries to Decarbonize Transportation



By Simon Morrow
Mohammad Asadi CO2 research

Mohammad Asadi, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology, has published a paper in Science describing the chemistry behind his novel lithium-air battery design. The insights will allow him to further optimize the battery design, with the potential for reaching ultra-high power densities far beyond current lithium-ion technology. 

“The technology is a breakthrough, and it has opened up a big window of possibility for taking these technologies to the market,” says Asadi. 

Asadi says the battery design has the potential to store one kilowatt-hour per kilogram or higher, four times greater than lithium-ion battery technology, which would be transformative for electrifying transportation, especially heavy-duty vehicles such as airplanes, trains, and submarines. 

Asadi wanted to make a battery with a solid electrolyte, which provides safety and energy density benefits compared to liquid electrolyte batteries. He was looking for an option that would be compatible with the cathode and anode technologies that he has been developing for use in lithium-air batteries

The most common solid electrolytes are made of either polymer or ceramic, and both options have downsides. Asadi found that he could create an electrolyte that combined them to utilize the best features of each material. 

“We take advantage of the high ionic conductivity of the ceramic and at the same time take advantage of the high stability and high interfacial connection of the polymer,” says Asadi.

The result allows for the critical reversible reaction that enables the battery to function—lithium-dioxide formation and decomposition—to occur at high rates at room temperature, the first demonstration of this in a lithium-air battery.

As described in the Science paper, Asadi has conducted a range of experiments that demonstrate the science behind how this reaction occurs.

“We found that solid-state electrolytes contribute around 75 percent of the total energy density. That tells us there is a lot of room for improvement because we believe we can minimize that thickness without compromising performance, and that would allow us to achieve a very, very high energy density,” says Asadi.

These experiments were conducted in collaboration with University of Illinois Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. Asadi says he plans to work with industry partners as he now moves toward optimizing the battery design and engineering it for manufacturing.  

Disclaimer: “Research reported in this publication was supported by the United States Department of Energy under Award Number DE-AC02-06CH11357. This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Energy.”

Photo: Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Mohammad Asadi