VCU receives $2.5M grant to extend battery life development
Research could extend the life of lithium-ion batteries commonly used in smartphones and other devices
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers will receive a $2.5 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop long-lasting rechargeable batteries, the university announced Thursday.
VCU researchers believe they can significantly extend battery life, drive down costs and reduce safety risks by redesigning materials found in lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly used to power smartphones and other electronic devices.
The project will be run by Ram B. Gupta, associate dean for faculty research development and a professor of chemical and life science engineering at VCU’s College of Engineering. Gupta and his team will test an approach for synthesizing material for the battery’s cathode.
“Our goal is to improve the batteries so that they can last longer, be more durable and safer,” Gupta said in a statement. He will work with Mo Jiang, a VCU assistant professor, and Parans Paranthaman, a corporate fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
When a battery is providing an electric current, lithium ions travel from the negatively-charged anode to the positively-charged cathode. And then when it’s being charged, the lithium ions move toward the anode from the cathode.
“By the time you run 300 to 500 cycles, you have lost enough that you would say, ‘I need a new battery.’ We have an idea about how to make this cathode sturdy enough so that the losses are minimized,” Gupta said in a statement.
If the research study is successful, it could result in innovations that could lower the cost of lithium-ion batteries and reduce degradation in the batteries, lowering the risk of explosions and fires caused by the batteries.
Jiang and Gupta have previously received more than $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to work on the subject. They are seeking a patent for the technology.
The VCU College of Engineering opened in 1996 and in fall 2019 enrolled 1,782 students. In the chemical and life science engineering department there are approximately 200 students.
This is one of 55 projects — with a total budget of $187 million — that the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office is supporting for advanced manufacturing research and development.