SITE SEARCH:
video overview
ADS

IIr Associates, Inc.
Publisher of The Virginia Engineer

Print-Publishing Services
Web Site Design-Coding-Hosting
Business Consulting

Phone: (804) 779-3527
sales@iirassoc.com
iirassoc.com

THIS MONTH'S FEATURE ARTICLE
Engineers will be called upon to find solutions for the challenges the world will face in the 21st century. These articles highlight the diversity of the work which continues in the search for those solutions.

Batteries That Could Make It Easier To Explore Mars Created
September 2020

Electrifying research by Clemson University scientists could lead to the creation of lighter, faster-charging batteries suitable for powering a spacesuit, or even a Mars rover.


A cross-sectional elemental map shows the microscopic structure of the electrode with silicon nanoparticles. Image credit: CU College of Science.

The research, which was funded by NASA, was recently reported in an article titled “Three-Dimensional Si Anodes with Fast Diffusion, High Capacity, High Rate Capability, and Long Cycle Life” that appeared in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces. Its authors include Shailendra Chiluwal, Nawraj Sapkota, Apparao M. Rao and Ramakrishna Podila, all of whom are part of the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute (CNI).

Podila, an assistant professor in the College of Science’s department of physics and astronomy, said the revolutionary new batteries could soon be used in U.S. satellites.

“Most satellites mainly get their power from the sun,” Prof. Podila said. “But the satellites have to be able to store energy for when they are in the Earth’s shadow. We have to make the batteries as light as possible, because the more the satellite weighs, the more its mission costs.”

Prof. Podila said that to understand the group’s breakthroughs, you could visualize the graphite anode in a lithium-ion battery as a deck of cards, wherein each card represents a layer of graphite that is used to store the charge until electricity is needed. The problem, Prof. Podila said, is that “graphite cannot store much charge.”

According to information, the Clemson team opted to work with silicon, which can pack more charge, meaning more energy can be stored in lighter cells. While scientists have long valued the high capacity of silicon for electrical storage, this material breaks apart into smaller pieces as it charges and discharges. The solution the team came up with involves the use of tiny silicon “nanosized” particles, which increase stability and provide longer cycle life. Rather than a deck of cards made of graphite, the new batteries uses layers of a carbon nanotube material called Buckypaper, with the silicon nanoparticles sandwiched in between.

With that kind of internal packaging, even if the silicon particles break up, they are “still in the sandwich,” Prof. Podila said.

Using batteries made of silicon and other nanomaterials not only increases capacity, it also allows for charging batteries at a higher current, which translates to faster charging times. As anyone whose cellphone has ever died in the middle of a phone call knows, this is an important feature for battery technology.

The faster charging is possible because the new batteries also use nanotubes as a buffer mechanism that allows for charging at a rate four times faster than is currently possible.

Lighter batteries that charge faster and offer greatly increased efficiency will not only be a boon to astronauts wearing battery-powered suits, but also to the scientists and engineers who have to get the astronauts to their destinations.

“Silicon as the anode in a lithium-ion battery represents the ‘holy grail’ for researchers in this field,” said Rao, CNI’s director and the principal investigator on the NASA grant. Rao also said the new batteries will soon find their way into electric vehicles.

This work was funded by two different awards: a NASA-EPSCoR award (Number NNH17ZHA002C) and a South Carolina EPSCoR/IDeA Program award (Number 18?SR03).



Feature Articles
Below are listed the 12 most recent Feature Articles.
To see the entire list of Feature Articles, visit the Feature Article Archive.
To be alerted to new Feature Articles, subscribe to The Virginia Engineer Newsfeed: RSS / Atom

Batteries That Could Make It Easier To Explore Mars Created
September 2020

Electrifying research by Clemson University scientists could lead to the creation of lighter, faster-charging batteries suitable for powering a spacesuit…

Quality Assurance Contract For Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Awarded
August 2020

Dewberry has announced that it will be providing quality assurance (QA) for the entire $3.8 billion Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) project.

Optimal Growing Conditions For Sea Vegetables Studied
July 2020

Three species of vegetables from the sea could just be the new kale with the added benefit of a salty flavor.

VCU’s Medicines for All Institute Partners With Industry To Secure The Domestic Pharmaceutical Supply Chain
June 2020

To prevent domestic shortages of critical medications, the Medicines for All Institute, based in the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) College of Engineering, has joined forces with pharmaceutical industry leaders to bring…

New Report Released On Germicidal Ultraviolet (GUV) and How It Could Reduce The Spread of COVID-19
May 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a wave of seemingly conflicting statements and opinions about the disinfection capabilities and safety of GUV, the Illuminating Engineering Society…

Experiments To Test Effects Of Space Conditions On Microbes
March 2020

On Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, a rocket and spacecraft were launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia carrying tubes of bacteria and bacteriophage…

Women in STEM Breakfast Sponsored by Rolls-Royce
February 2020

Elizabeth Lindsey, Executive Director of Byte Back in Washington, DC, was honored recently with the Reaching for the Stars: Outstanding Women in STEM Award at the second annual…

New Study Looks At The Women Who Thrive In Engineering and Technology Education and Career Paths
January 2020

The new collaborative study between DiscoverE and Concord Evaluation Group, entitled Despite the Odds: Young Women Who Persist In Engineering, has uncovered a number of key factors…

NASA’s Webb Telescope To Reveal Milky Way’s Center
December 2019

NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope is designed to view the universe in infrared light…

Studying Movement Against A Current
November 2019

Going upstream, and against a current, involves a front-first downward tilt and then moving along a surface, shows new research…

Hazard and Disaster Research Network Seeks to Advance Innovation
October 2019

The Operations and Systems Engineering Extreme Event Research (OSEEER) network will advance basic science and engineering while also improving societal well-being.

Actuator Vibration Moves Tiny 3D-Printed Robots
September 2019

Robots are the size of the world’s smallest ant.


Feature Article Archive
 
 
The Virginia Engineer on facebook
The Virginia Engineer RSS Feed