Batteries That Run at Ultra-low Temperatures

Traditional lithium-ion batteries tend to stop working at around -25 º Celsius, but that may not be an issue in the near future. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have created a new type of electrolyte that allows lithium batteries to work with at temperatures as low as -60 º Celsius. Instead of the usual liquid organic solvents, the new electrolyte is composed of pressurized liquefied fluoromethane gas. Its low viscosity allows for high ion mobility and high conductivity, in extremely cold temperatures that would freeze conventional liquid electrolytes. It also retains high performance at room temperature.

The new electrolyte has a natural shutdown that prevents a situation to overheat and catch fire. At high temperatures, the liquified gas loses its ability to dissolve salts, which causes the battery to lose conductivity and stop working. Once it’s cooled down, it starts working again.

The scientists have developed an electrolyte for use in electrochemical capacitors, made from liquefied difluoromethane gas. It allows them to run at low temperatures such as -80 º Celsius. It is hoped that batteries and capacitors using such electrolytes could operate at temperatures as low as -100 º Celsius, allowing for their use in space.

Source: UC San Diego

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