Making a better battery for the world

M.Sc. student Kathlyne Nelson preparing Li-on battery electrolytes in an argon-filled glove box. (Photo Courtesy of Dalhousie University)

M.Sc. student Kathlyne Nelson preparing Li-on battery electrolytes in an argon-filled glove box. (Photo Courtesy of Dalhousie University)

Lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries are a part of our daily lives. They power our laptops, cell phones, pacemakers, cordless power tools — nearly anything portable and electronic.

Dr. Jeff Dahn, professor and researcher in Dalhousie University’s Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, is one of the pioneering developers of the lithium-ion battery. He and his team of 25 graduate students, post-docs and staff are performing research aimed at making Li-ion batteries last longer, cost less and store more energy per weight per volume.

Between 2003 and 2011 Nova Scotia Research Innovation Trust (NSRIT) and Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) have each awarded over $3 million in funds to Dr. Dahn’s research. In 2011, as part of the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Automotive Partnership Canada initiative, their contributions allowed for the purchasing of necessary infrastructure and equipment and funded a major million-dollar lab renovation.

“This funding has enabled us to begin serious work on extending lifetime on a lithium-ion battery,” says Dr. Dahn. “We are thinking of batteries that could last a decade — maybe even 20 or 30 years — as opposed to a few years.” To ensure his team’s research is industry-ready, Dr. Dahn works with a number of partners including 3M and 3M Canada Company as well as a collaboration project with Medtronic Corp., General Motors and Magna.

So, why does he do it? “This research important to me because it’s important to the planet,” Dr. Dahn explains. “One day Nova Scotians will be driving electric cars and ideally we will have the best battery for when that time comes.”

 

Dr. Jeff Dahn's research group pictured in summer 2013. (Photo Courtesy of Dalhousie University)

Dr. Jeff Dahn’s research group pictured in summer 2013. (Photo Courtesy of Dalhousie University)

A view of the ultra-high precision charger constructed using NSRIT and CFI funds.    (Photo Courtesy of Dalhousie University)

A view of the ultra-high precision charger constructed using NSRIT and CFI funds. (Photo Courtesy of Dalhousie University)

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