Venkat Viswanathan Awarded Funding to Stop Dendrite Formation in Li-ion Batteries
Energy expert Venkat Viswanathan have received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to study the use of dendrite-blocking polymers in lithium-ion batteries.
When charged repeatedly, lithium-ion batteries run the risk of overheating, and even catching fire. This is due to the formation of dendrites, or microscopic fibers of lithium that can form during the charging cycle. Over time, these dendrites can grow long enough that they connect the battery’s electrodes to one another, causing the battery to short-circuit and become a potential hazard. In order to fully implement future lithium-ion battery technologies, which could greatly increase the battery power of our smartphones, electric vehicles, and more, engineers need to find a way to stop these dendrites from forming.
Viswanathan’s project will focus on the use of nano-composite protective layers in low-cost, high-energy lithium batteries. In collaboration with 24M Technologies, Inc., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Sepion Technologies, the project will leverage the interface between polymers and inorganic compounds to provide the dendrite-blocking capabilities found in ceramic conductors, while maintaining high conductivity and manufacturability. Viswanathan’s portion of the project will focus on the computational study of inorganic compounds to provide the basis for the optimization of organic-inorganic protective layers.
ARPA-E looks to drive innovation by providing funding for high-impact energy technologies that are in stages too early for private investment. In total, Carnegie Mellon will receive over $1 million in funding from ARPA-E, expected to begin in the fall of 2016.
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