Researchers at Rice University in Houston have found that adding asphalt to the anode of lithium metal batteries allows them to be charged much faster and makes them less likely to short circuit and fail.
The researchers made the anode by coating untreated gilsonite (a derivative of asphalt), mixed with conductive graphene nanoribbons, with lithium metal using electrochemical deposition. This was combined with a cathode of sulfurized carbon to make the battery.
The capacity of the battery is similar to a conventional lithium metal battery but the asphalt-lithium metal batteries can be charged from zero to full charge in five minutes, rather than the two hours or more typically needed with other batteries.
The asphalt derivative also helped prevent the formation of dendrites which form during the charging process in conventional lithium batteries and can eventually cause a short-circuit and, in extreme cases, fire.