Electrolytes form the medium through which ions travel from a battery's cathode to its anode, allowing cell phones to ring, flashlights to light up, and cars to start. Everyday batteries can be made from an assortment of organic and water-based electrolytes, with different electrolytes being more effective depending on the battery's design and intended use. Batteries can be optimized to meet various needs, such as using specific electrolytes in Lithium ion batteries to decrease flammability issues or designing batteries with electrolytes that can function at low temperatures.
Research at the Battery Test Center (BTC) seeks to determine which electrolytes will be most effective in different types of batteries. Members of the BTC team either synthesize new chemical compounds or use existing compounds to better understand and optimize desired battery performance. Using the newly formulated blends, they perform comprehensive testing on each combination to measure various characteristics, including the electrochemical response for different thermal and physical properties, as well as what the degradation pathways might be.
With this testing, BTC researchers are better able to:
1) assess batteries brought to them by industry and academic collaborators, and
2) provide suggestions for possible battery design alternatives that may work more effectively.