New battery tech from WSU

I got this press release via MotoMatters.  I have been sitting on it trying to get some confirmation on the tech.  Didn’t get my of a reply from my source other than, “No real feedback there is a huge chasm from patent to commercialization.”  It sounds as promising as any other technology, only they seem to think they can bring it to production in a bout a year.  I am anti-lithium, but I don’t think it’s the final option either.  But this seems like a really simple way to triple the effectiveness of lipo batteries without the mass killing of millions of bacteria. 😀


WSU Researchers Develop Super Lithium-Ion Battery



Grant Norton, professor, School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering,, (509) 335-6617

Tina Hilding, communications coordinator, College of Engineering and Architecture, (509) 335-5095,


PULLMAN, WA – Washington State University researchers have developed a new technology that could triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries, which, as anyone who owns a cell phone or laptop knows, can be frustratingly limiting.

The researchers, led by Grant Norton, Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, have filed patents on the nanoscale-based technology, which also allows the batteries to re-charge many more times and more quickly than current models. They expect to bring it to the market within a year.

In particular, the researchers have developed an anode made of tin rather than the carbon  used currently.  Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are made up of two electrodes, the cathode and an anode.

During charging, the lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode.

The anode holds the lithium ions and stores the battery’s energy. When the battery is used, the ions move from the anode to the cathode, discharging electrons and creating an electric circuit.

The new tin anode has the potential to store almost three times the energy of graphite.

Norton and postdoctoral researcher Uttara Sahaym developed the novel material a little over a year ago while working on a project to mitigate tin whiskers, which are literally tiny whiskers that grow on tin-plated electronics. The whiskers, which can sometimes grow as long as 10 millimeters, are a pesky problem in microelectronics because they create short circuits that can cause catastrophic damage. Yet, despite the fact that tin whiskers have been causing problems for more than  60 years, researchers have been unable to come up with ways to entirely avoid them.

Norton and his group decided to turn the problem on its head and see if they could control the growth of tin whiskers, instead of trying to get rid of them. They applied the work to developing a tin-based anode for batteries.

The researchers developed a method for growing tin nanoneedles directly onto copper foil using a standard electroplating process that is commonly used in industry. Electroplating means the tin-based anode costs less than regular graphite anodes with triple the energy storage capacity. The end product battery will look exactly the same as the current batteries, so that manufacturers don’t have to redesign their electronic devices to make room for a new battery.

With support from the WSU College of Engineering and Architecture’s Emerging Technology Fund, which is funded by private donations, the researchers have started building and testing the batteries.

Darin Watkins

Executive Dir. of External Communications

Washington State University

(509) 335-3581 office

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