From Science Daily:
From smartphones to electric cars to home energy storage devices, rechargeable batteries power our modern lives. But have you ever stopped to wonder what’s inside these devices that allow us to send emojis, drive around town and so much more? If so, check out the Advanced Battery Facility.
The facility is one of a very few experimental battery manufacturing labs that are available to help academia and industry develop and test new batteries. Most of these places are owned by private companies that keep their proprietary tests under wraps, but a few DOE labs — Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory — operate more open facilities so the results can often be made public.
PNNL’s semi-automated Advanced Battery Facility enables scientists to test out all kinds of different materials — including lithium-metal, sulfur, sodium and magnesium — to make batteries last longer and store more energy. The tests are helping scientists from national labs, universities and industry find lower-cost replacements for today’s most common rechargeable battery, the lithium-ion battery.
At the Advanced Battery Facility, scientists test-drive new materials by assembling them into cell phone-sized experimental batteries, called “pouch cells” because they’re enclosed in a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch. Like full-sized batteries, each pouch cell has three main parts: two electrodes and an electrolyte that separates them.
When the battery stores and later gives up electricity, tiny charged particles move back and forth between each electrode, passing through the electrolyte along the way. This process provides…