Sheffield team develops new method for determining lithium-ion battery health

Sheffield team develops new method for determining lithium-ion battery health

Engineers at the University of Sheffield have introduced a new way to examine the inner workings and condition of lithium-ion batteries, which play a crucial role in powering our everyday electronic devices and vehicles.

new method for determining lithium-ion battery health

This groundbreaking method, detailed in a recent report in the Journal of Energy Storage, has the potential to detect battery issues at an earlier stage, preventing them from becoming irreparable. This advancement not only prolongs the lifespan of batteries but also contributes to reducing electronic waste and lessening the demand for new batteries that rely on critical raw materials.

Manufacturers could benefit from this novel approach during the production phase by identifying and rectifying battery defects, consequently minimizing the number of faulty batteries that reach consumers. Additionally, the technique could be employed during servicing to provide a more precise evaluation of a battery’s overall health.

The research team from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Mechanical Engineering achieved this breakthrough by utilizing a single ultrasonic wave to reverse engineer a lithium-ion battery cell. It’s worth noting that lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in mobile phones, laptops, and electric vehicles. This development holds promising prospects for the electronics industry, as it addresses key challenges associated with battery reliability and sustainability.

Currently, accurately gauging the internal condition of a lithium-ion battery primarily relies on X-ray machines, a method that proves to be costly and impractical for businesses, manufacturers, and consumers alike. This limitation increases the likelihood of defects going unnoticed until the battery exhibits visible damage, like swelling, often indicating irreparable damage.

The recent breakthrough achieved by the University of Sheffield marks a promising stride toward the creation of a novel, cost-effective system for assessing the health of lithium-ion batteries. However, it’s crucial to note that this advancement is still in its early stages and necessitates further development to become widely accessible to the industry.

This newfound technique also opens doors to the potential development of compact sensors that could be integrated into batteries for real-time monitoring of their condition. This prospect holds significant implications for monitoring the health of batteries in electric vehicles, providing crucial insights that could impact their overall performance. Furthermore, this innovation could extend its application to smaller consumer electronics such as laptops and mobile phones, offering a proactive approach to identifying and addressing potential lithium-ion battery issues before they escalate. As this technology matures, it could pave the way for a more sustainable and efficient future in the realm of electronic devices and electric vehicles.

Royce Copley, a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield and lead author of the study, said, “Lithium-ion batteries are essential components of so many of the electronic devices we all rely on everyday, in so many aspects of our lives. They power electric vehicles and their health is key to how far an electric car can travel before needing to be charged.”

Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce, Professor of Lubrication Engineering at the University of Sheffield and also a researcher in the study, said, “This method has the potential to make the batteries in our electronic devices much more reliable. While currently limited in precision under certain test conditions, with further research and development, it could be used in the production phase, so manufacturers can spot issues before they ship. It could also be used during servicing to help our electric vehicles, but also small consumer electronics, last longer.

Following the publication of their research, the engineers from Sheffield are actively seeking collaboration with an industrial partner to facilitate the further development of this technology.

Professor Dwyer-Joyce added, “The research we have done is at the fundamental stage. We have shown what is possible in the laboratory – how we can determine the internal structure of a battery – and now we are looking to take it to the next level with a partner from industry. We are really excited about this breakthrough and are looking forward to progressing the technology and seeing where it will lead.

More information: R.J. Copley et al, Prediction of the internal structure of a lithium-ion battery using a single ultrasound wave response, Journal of Energy Storage (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.est.2023.108778

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Source(s): University of Sheffield

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