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02/05/2020 HYU News > Academics

Title

Increasing Mileage of Electric Cars with a ‘Starch Battery’

A team develops a cathode made of frying materials (water, oil, and starch) and silicon

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On January 21st, a co-research team of Hanyang University's Department of Energy Engineering, Chonnam National University's Department of New Material Engineering, and the KIST Energy Storing Research Group announced that they have developed a silicon-based cathode which has a fourfold battery capacity than the graphite cathode that was previously used and can be charged more than 80% in five minutes. If this is applied to electric cars, the mileage can be increased more than double.

Current commercialized electronic car batteries use graphite as cathode material but a disadvantage of it is that its mileage is shorter than internal combustion cars, due to small battery capacity. To develop electric cars with longer mileage, silicon that can save energy up to ten times than graphite is now highlighted as a new cathode material.

However, the difficulty of silicon commercialization is that silicon rapid expansion of volume and loss of capacity, when charging and discharging are continued. Also, although many ways to enhance the safety of silicon as a cathode material are suggested, high price and complex processes are hindering silicon from replacing graphite. 
 
The co-researching team focused on cheap materials in daily lives such as water, oil, and starch to enhance the stability of silicon. They increased a carbon-silicon material by diluting starch in the water and oil in silicon and heating them. A carbon-silicon complex is made through a heating process just like frying something. Through this, the volume expansion of silicon cathode is prevented, when charging and discharging it.
▲ Carbon-Silicon Complex Synthesis Process
Micelle is made of an emulsion of water, oil, starch, and surfactant and when it is repeatedly heated and carbonized, a carbon-silicon complex is formed. (Photo courtesy by KIST)
 
The complex showed a battery capacity (1,530mAh/g) that is four times larger than the previous graphite-based cathode material (360mAh/g), and it also showed a characteristic of stabilized capacity after more than 500 times of charging, and of more than 80% charging in five minutes. This is because the carbon complex controls the volume expansion of silicon so that the stability is increased and it gained a large output due to carbon’s high conductivity and rearrangement of silicon structure. 

Doctor Jeong Hoon-gi of KIST who led this research showed his expectation by saying, “An easy process and great characteristics as such have a high possibility of commercialization and they will be further used in electric cars and Energy Storing System (ESS) when applied to a lithium-ion secondary battery.”

This research was conducted by the support of the Ministry of Science and ICT and as a part of KIST’s main projects and climate change response development projects. The result of the research is published in the newest edition of 「Nano Letters」, an international journal of the field of nanotechnology.
▲ An imaginary image of an electric car equipping a carbon-silicon complex cathode, made by mixing and heating the silicon from eco-friendly materials, such as corn and sweet potatoes, which are mixed with oil (Photo courtesy of KIST)


Global News Team
Translation by: Lee Seong-chae
global@hanyang.ac.kr
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