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UC San Diego Researchers Build Batteries For Extremely Cold Weather

A liquid gas battery shown in this undated photo.

Credit: David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

Above: A liquid gas battery shown in this undated photo.

San Diego researchers have developed a way to build batteries that can function in extremely cold environments. The batteries could change expectations for energy storage devices.

The new batteries use a pressurized gas as the conduit to move electricity inside the device. Current batteries rely on liquids or solid materials to serve as electrolytes.

Shirley Meng leads the UC San Diego lab where the work was done.

She said the batteries have two important properties. The batteries can work at much colder temperatures and can shut themselves down if the battery starts to overheat.

San Diego researchers have developed a way to build batteries that can function in extremely cold environments.

"That's the beauty of these types of electrolytes. Because the gas molecules are typically small molecules, both the capacity and the power can be improved," Meng said.

That could allow batteries to work better in colder climates and it could have applications for batteries in space.

"Of course we are trying very hard to do all this without sacrificing the efficiency and the cycle life of the battery," Meng said.

Early tests show the new battery system can hold more energy and release more power than batteries currently on the market.

Meng said the research on the new battery type is still in the early stages and more needs to be done to assess if they are a practical alternative to current batteries.

Findings are published in the current online issue of the journal Science.

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