The PVP Binder is a new binder that improves Lithium-I Battery life with a new binder known as the initials PVP.

Scientists from SLAC and Stanford developed a cathode that lasts five times longer than the previous models while conserving 94 % of its initial capacity to store energy after just 100 charge/discharge cycles and 70 percent of its original capacity following 500 cycles. When it comes to enhancing the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries, every component should be considered, including the glue that holds the materials inside the cathode. Researchers of SLAC, as well as Stanford, have discovered.

The modification of the material, which bonds carbon and lithium sulfide together, resulted in a cathode that lasts more than five times as long as the previous designs in a study released last month in Chemical Science. The research results are some of the first ones to be funded from the department’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research.

“We were very impressed with how important this binder was in improving the time of our experimental battery,” said Yi Cui, an associate professor at SLAC and Stanford who was the lead for the research. Researchers worldwide are racing to develop more efficient lithium-ion batteries, which are among those technologies that are most likely to be successful that power increasing-demanding devices such as electric vehicles and mobile electronics.

Using sulfur and silicon as the main components in the batteries’ terminals known as the cathode and anode and cathode can allow lithium-ion batteries to hold more than five times the energy of the current best models. But finding specific formulas for silicon and sulfur that last for a few thousand charge-discharge cycles under real-world use is difficult.

Cui’s group was looking into ways to make a better cathode using lithium sulfide instead of sulfur. The lithium atoms it consists of can provide the ions that move between the cathode and anode in the battery’s charge and discharge cycle, which also means that the other electrode in the battery could be constructed from materials that are not lithium-based like silicon. However, lithium sulfide is also electrically inert and can significantly reduce a battery’s capacity. To combat this issue, conductors of electricity particles are mixed with sulfur, a glue-like substance that acts as a binder that keeps the entire thing together.

Researchers in Cui’s group has created an innovative binder that is especially well-suited to be used with lithium sulfide cathodes and bind tightly to intermediate polysulfide molecules, which dissolve from the cathode, reducing the battery’s capacity to store energy and useful life span.

The battery tested with the binder that was developed, and referred to by its initials PVP, remained at 94 percent of its initial energy storage capacity after 100 charge/discharge cycles, compared with 72 percent of cells that use a traditional binder, referred to as PVDF. After 500 cycles of charging and discharge, the PVP battery could still hold the 69 percent capacity of its initial capacity. Cui claimed that the increase was due to PVP’s greater affinity to lithium sulfide. They made a fine-grained lithium sulfide/carbon compound that made it easier for lithium-ion ions to enter every active component in the cathode. However, the prior binding agent, PVDF, created the compound to form large clumps, which hindered lithium ions’ movement and destroyed the battery after 100 cycles.

Even the best batteries will lose some capacity for energy storage after each charge and discharge cycle. Researchers are working to minimize these losses as much as they can. Further improvements to the PVP/lithium-sulfur cathode combo will be required for extending its life to over 1,000 cycles. Cui declared that he is pleased that the improvement of the largely ignored binder material yielded such dramatic positive effects.

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