News Release

UC San Diego receives award from Energy Department for battery research in advanced vehicle technologies

high voltage electrolyte
Inside cover of the May 2018 issue of Materials Today, illustrating a high-voltage electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries. Credit: Emil Kim

San Diego, Calif., Sept. 13, 2018 -- The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $2.5 million to a team led by the University of California San Diego for battery research in advanced vehicle technologies.

The project is aimed at developing cobalt-free cathode materials for next-generation lithium-ion batteries. Shirley Meng, a professor of nanoengineering and the director of the Sustainable Power and Energy Center at UC San Diego, is the lead investigator on the project. The team involves Maxwell Technologies, a San Diego-based company that develops and manufactures energy storage and power delivery solutions.

The work builds on a study published recently in Materials Today, in which Meng’s team collaborated with researchers led by Kang Xu at Army Research Lab to develop a lithium-ion battery electrolyte that performs well throughout a wider voltage range than other lithium-ion battery electrolytes. The new electrolyte can withstand more than 4.8 Volts—others decompose at voltage levels below this—making it the first one to be compatible with both a graphite anode and a high-voltage cathode material, LNMO spinel (lithium, nickel, manganese and oxygen), especially at elevated temperatures (55 C). The findings bring researchers a step closer to designing lithium-ion battery materials that operate at high voltage levels, an attribute that is crucial for batteries used in electric vehicles.

Meng and her team are collaborating with Maxwell Technologies to combine the synergy between this novel electrolyte with advanced dry coated thick LNMO spinel cathodes to ultimately industrialize a completely cobalt-free, high energy density lithium-ion battery for electric vehicles.

This project is one of 42 projects totaling $80 million of investment from the DOE “to support advanced vehicle technologies that can enable more affordable mobility, strengthen domestic energy security, reduce our independence on foreign sources of critical materials, and enhance U.S. economic growth.”

More information can be found on the Department of Energy website.

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